A Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday ordered Sen. Musliu Obanikoro to appear in court on March.18.
NAN reports that Obanikoro’s appearance would be for the continuation of his cross-examination in the trial of the immediate past governor of Ekiti, Mr Ayodele Fayose who is facing charges of N6.9 billion fraud.
Justice Mojisola Olatoregun made the order at the resumed trial of Fayose, following the absence of Obanikoro, the former Minister of State for Defence.
Obanikoro has been under cross-examination as the fifth prosecution witness.
The court said it was important for the witness (Obanikoro) to be aware of the seriousness of his civic responsibility.
It, therefore, implored him to endeavor to show up on the next adjourned date.
The judge held that where the witness fails to appear on the next date, the court will have no option but to compel him.
Fayose alongside a company, Spotless Investment Ltd., was arraigned before Justice Olatoregun by The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on 11 counts on Oct. 22, 2018.
He had pleaded not guilty to the charges, and the court had granted him bail in the sum of N50million with one surety in like sum.
The EFCC opened its case for the prosecution on Nov. 19, 2018 and called four witnesses.
On Jan. 21, 2019, the prosecution called its fifth witness, Sen. Obanikoro, a former Minister of State for Defence.
On Feb.5, 2019 which was the last adjourned date, Obanikoro was still under cross-examination by the second defence counsel, Mr. Olalekan Ojo (SAN).
However, the court had to adjourn the case until Feb. 7, for counsel to address it on the admissibility of an extra-judicial statement made by a party who is not standing trial.
At the resumed hearing of the case on Thursday, Obanikoro was not available in court.
The prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), told the court that he called the witness phone line yesterday (Wednesday) to inform him of today’s proceedings but he could not reach him.
Jacobs said that he was later informed by a Special Assistant (SA) to the witness that Obanikoro was on admission in the hospital, and he exhibited a written medical report before the court, evidencing same.
In response, the defence counsel, Mr Ola Olanipekun (SAN), frowned at the absence of the witness, arguing that if learned counsel had made themselves available in court, then the witness had no right to be absent.
Consequently, Justice Olatoregun directed that Obanikoro be present in court at the next adjourned date, failing which the court may have to compel him to appear.
Meanwhile, in addressing the court on the admissibility of an extra-judicial statement made by a party who is not standing trial, Ojo urged the court to admit in evidence, a Certified True Copy (CTC) of a statement made by a former aide to Obanikoro, Mr Justin Erukaa (now late) .
At the last adjourned date, Ojo had sought to tender the statement from the bar, but the prosecutor raised an objection to oppose same.
He argued that the statement could only be tendered through its maker.
On Thursday, Ojo argued that the first “litmus test” of admissibility is relevance, urging the court to look at the content of the statement to determine its relevance to the trial or to the fact in issue.
He said that both in the oral evidence of the witness and even Erukaa’s, the witness admitted to have sent his aide on several errands.
He said that included the order that he should collect the sum of $1.601million from a Bureau De Change.
He argued that the fact depicted the relevance of Erukaa’s statement sought to be tendered from the bar.
Ojo citing the provisions of Sections 39, 40-50 and 83 of the Evidence Act as well as Pages 396 to 397 of the book “Contemporary Law On Evidence” authored by Jerry Amadi, urged the court to admit the evidence of Erukaa who he described as “Late”.
“Admissibility is not synonymous with weight; the court can admit the statement in evidence and in the cause of judgment, may choose to not to consider same,” he said.
He urged the court to uphold his argument.
In opposing the application, Mr Rotimi Jacobs reiterated the question for determination “whether the statement of a person not called as a witness can be admissible in evidence.”
He submitted that such evidence was not admissible in law as it is a hear-say piece of evidence.
Jacobs also argued that Section 39 of the Evidence Act relied on by the defence counsel was not relevant to the fact in issue, but only deals with “Res Gestae” or a dying declaration.
He added that the defence counsel had not drawn the court’s attention to any provision which makes Section 39 of the Evidence Act applicable.
He said that before such a statement made to a law enforcement agency could be admitted, it must comply with the requirement set out in Section 40 of the Act.
According to Jacobs, “The maker of the statement must come out to say it.”
He urged the court to refuse same.
After listening to submissions of the counsel, Justice Olatoregun adjourned the case until March.18 by 12 noon, March 19 and March 20, for continuation of trial.
According to the charge, on June 17, 2014, Fayose and Agbele were said to have taken possession of the sum of N1.2 billion, for purposes of funding Fayose’s gubernatorial election campaign in Ekiti State, which sum they reasonably ought to have known formed part of crime proceeds.
Fayose was also alleged to have received a cash payment of the sum of five million dollars, (about N1.8 billion) from the then Minister of State for Defence, Sen. Musiliu Obanikoro, without going through any financial institution and which sum exceeded the amount allowed by law.
He was also alleged to have retained the sum of N300million in his Zenith Bank account and took control of the aggregate sums of about N622million which sum he ought to have known formed part of crime proceeds.
Fayose was alleged to have procured De Privateer Ltd., and Still Earth Ltd., to retain in their Zenith and FCMB accounts, the aggregate sums of N851million which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of crime proceeds.
Besides, the accused was alleged to have used the aggregate sums of about N1.6billion to acquire properties in Lagos and Abuja, which sums he reasonably ought to have known formed part of crime proceeds.
The accused was also alleged to have used the sum of N200 million to acquire a property in Abuja in the name of his elder sister, Moji Oladeji, which sum he ought to have known also formed crime proceeds.
The offences contravene the provisions of Sections 15(1), 15 (2), 15 (3), 16(2)(b), 16 (d), and 18 (c) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011.
Varsity Don to Governors: ‘Declare State Of Emergency As Measure to Restore Peace, Security In South West
The Director, Institute for Peace and Strategic Studies, University of Ibadan, Professor Tajudeen Akanji has called on the Governors in the South West region; Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Gboyega Oyetola (Osun), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Rotimi Akreredolu (Ondo) and Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti) to declare state of emergency as a measure to restore peace and security in the region.
“Although insecurity is a global phenomenon, the difference between communities and states with security issues is their proactiveness and ability to prepare, forecast, project, confront and recover from the security challenges.”
Ogundoyin in his address, said as part of efforts to nip the security challenges in the bud, Oyo State Government will soon unveil a new security architecture.
“We have taken security for granted in Nigeria. I recall that while we were growing up, we could move around freely without any fear.
“Oyo State House of Assembly is ready to partner with the Nigerian Institution of Surveyor in all possible ways including ways to ensure security in Oyo Sate.”
Olaiya lauded the efforts of NIS, Oyo State for considering it appropriate to honour Pa L. L. Ali with the Annual Lecture series saying the gesture shows the recognition of selfless service and respect “Baba” has for the profession.
Olaiya who spoke on behalf of L. L. Ali Family said Pa Ali’s honesty, discipline and virtues, have now constituted lasting heritage which brought about the annual lecture in honour of the celebrant.
Charles said the annual lecture in honour of the septuagenarian L. L. Ali is the best thing to for the man who has paid his due not only to the surveying profession but to humanity.
Kobiowu said the 98-year old Surveyor L. L. Ali is a connosus in the surveying profession because of his uncompromising respect for the ethics of the job in his active days and therefore he is being celebrated with the annual lecture.
Oyo Will Certainly Break The Poverty Barrier When We All Pay Tax – Makinde
In order to be able to fulfill his promises on provision of social amenities, enduring infrastructures, regular payment of government obligations and other amenities, the Oyo State Governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde has pleaded for the support of different stakeholders operating in the State on adequate deductions, prompt Remittance of Taxes and other levies.
This was stated during a One Day Sensitization workshop on Computations, Deductions and Remittances for Federal and State Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as well as Tertiary Institutions in the state held at the House of Chiefs, Secretariats, Ibadan.
Speaking on behalf of Engr. Seyi Makinde, the Executive Chairman, Oyo State Internal Revenue Service, Aremo John Adeleke reiterated that the intention of the present administration was not going to over-burden any business enterprise either small or big but rather to ensure government get its fair and reasonable share of all its eligible tax revenue.
Makinde said, “Presently, the fluctuations and other complex gyrations of the international Oil market and the global economy means unstable and often lower revenue from Federal allocation. The need to look inward to generate enough internal revenue to cater for the much societal demand has never been this much.
“We count on Companies and other businesses to ensure they regularly deduct and remit their employees’ PAYE tax to covers of our treasury. This will ensure mutual reciprocation of right and duties on the part of all parties. I regard such complying institutions, business and contractors as friends of my government and corporate citizens of this State of enduring opportunities.”
Welcoming the participants in his speech, Aremo Adeleke tasked Professional Bodies, Tax Professionals, Consultants, Taxpayers and Agents to discharge their responsibilities as stipulated by the National Tax Policy of 2017.
He also urged all MDAs, Federal and State as well as Tertiary Institutions to ensure they give patronage only to individuals and companies with a record of regular and up to date remittance of their employees’ Pay As You Earn (PAYE).
In his remark, the head of the partnering firm, Mr Femi Adeniji explained that the workshop was about sensitizing various agencies about their responsibility that pertained to tax and other dues, adding that participants will be taught the right ways of making deductions so as not to shortchange the government.
The workshop had in attendance officials of State and Federal Ministries,Directorates and Agencies (MDAs),private business sectors representatives and other stakeholders.
A double-digit investment in the agricultural sector is needed to transform agriculture, says IITA’s Sanginga
A double-digit investment in the agricultural sector backed by a vibrant rural infrastructural network will help states in Nigeria to accelerate the transformation of agriculture, says Dr Nteranya Sanginga, Director General of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).
“No matter our good intentions, we will not see a transformation in agriculture if we continue to invest less than 10 percent of our budget on agriculture,” Dr Sanginga said during a courtesy visit to the Governor of Oyo State, Engr. Seyi Makinde, in Ibadan.
In 2003, African heads of state in Maputo made a commitment to invest at least 10 percent of their annual budgets in agriculture. Sixteen years after the declaration, only a few countries have implemented that declaration.
“One of the countries that has fulfilled the commitment is Ethiopia…Ethiopia is today investing more than 10 percent and that country is witnessing a rapid transformation in agriculture,” Dr Sanginga explained.
Making reference to the Oyo State Agricultural Policy framework, the IITA boss said that Oyo state’s investment in agriculture had nosedived from about 7 percent to 2 percent from 1995 to 2017, adding that the new administration needs to reverse the trend.
On rural infrastructure, Dr Sanginga said the government should pay close attention to rehabilitation of rural roads (feeder roads) to help the transportation of agricultural products from the farm to the markets.
He decried the deterioration of infrastructure in several farm settlements in Oyo state and urged the government to tackle the trend.
Dr Sanginga also called on the government to seek ways to involve the youths in agriculture, stressing that inclusiveness was imperative for sustainability in the agricultural development agenda of the state.
In his response, Governor Makinde commended the IITA DG for the courtesy visit and pledged the commitment of the state to work with IITA to achieve agricultural transformation.
The governor noted that his administration had identified four pillars: education, rural infrastructure, economic development (agriculture), and security to help bring the dividends of democracy to the people of Oyo state.
He noted that for the state to attain economic development, agriculture must be transformed.
“This is because most of our people depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Besides, through agricultural transformation, we will be able to provide the needed jobs for our youths…the jobs we promised during the election campaigns,” he added.
On infrastructure, the governor said work on one of the major agricultural roads (Moniya to Iseyin) would commence soon. On completion, the road would ease the movement of farm produce to the market. He also said that discussions were in top gear with the federal government to rehabilitate the Oyo town-Iseyin road.
On the courtesy visit to the Governor were Drs Kenton Dashiell, IITA Deputy Director General (Partnerships for Delivery); Alfred Dixon, Director for Development & Delivery; Tahirou Abdoulaye, Impact Economist; Godwin Atser, Digital Extension & Advisory Services Specialist; Toyin Oke, Manager, Resource Mobilization, Protocol and External Liaison; Oludamilare Odusanya and Adetola Adenmosun, IITA Youth Agripreneurs.
The meeting with the Governor was facilitated by Debo Akande, Executive Adviser to the Governor onAgribusiness.
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