SERAP reacts to $16bn power projects, backs EFCC’s decision to probe past govts’ spending - Mega Icon Magazine
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SERAP reacts to $16bn power projects, backs EFCC’s decision to probe past govts’ spending

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has agreed that  “the reported probe by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of the past governments, starting with the government of former president Olusegun Obasanjo’s $16 billion power project.

SERAP noted that it is an opportunity for the anti-graft agency to show that former heads of state and other high-ranking public officials are not immune from investigation and prosecution for allegations of grand corruption in Nigeria.

“This probe is something, which SERAP has consistently called for. Nigerians have for far too long been denied justice and the opportunity to get to the bottom of why they continue to pay the price for corruption in the electricity sector–staying in darkness, but still made to pay crazy electricity bills.”

According to reports, the EFCC has begun the probe of the $16 billion power project of the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. While some put the exact cost of the project at $16 billion others say it is $13.8 billion. Key contractors and about 18 top public officers allegedly involved in the power project scam during the Obasanjo administration, and those of former Presidents Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan, may also be arrested.

SERAP, in a statement signed on Sunday by its deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, said: “The probe is timely, especially coming at a time of citizens’ frustrations at persistent allegations of corruption and the impacts on their human rights. Investigating allegations of grand corruption and prosecuting former heads of state and other high-ranking officials where such allegations show relevant and sufficient admissible evidence would address the grave travesty that has for many years occurred in the power sector.”

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The organization also added: “The EFCC should urgently invite anyone suspected to be involved for questioning. The agency should also expand the probe to cover the alleged squandering of a total of N11 trillion in the power sector between 1999 and 2015, and the unresolved case of the reported missing $12.4 billion oil windfall, allegedly spent between 1988 and 1993 by the government of former military dictator, General Ibrahim Babangida.”

“The EFCC has the full support of Nigerians in its efforts to hold high-ranking public officials to account for grand corruption, and if consistently, fairly and diligently pursued, this probe would contribute to ending impunity for corruption, and to mobilizing and encouraging youth civic engagement in the anti-graft fight in the country. SERAP stands ready to work with the EFCC in pursuing all allegations of grand corruption.

“SERAP notes that former presidents have routinely faced corruption charges in countries like Iceland, Kyrgyzstan, Brazil, Montenegro, South Korea, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Slovakia, Peru, and Mauritius, and the probe by the EFCC would mean this list would grow even further to include Nigeria.

“Impunity for grand corruption will continue as long as high-ranking public officials go largely unpunished for their alleged crimes. It is by pursuing these allegations and taking the evidence before the court that the truth will be revealed and justice best served. Addressing impunity in the power sector should be total. This would help to further public perception of fairness and thoroughness.

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“Lack of regular electricity supply in the country had occasioned many other problems, including lack of access to potable water. The failure by successive governments to tell Nigerians the truth about allegations of corruption in the power sector amounts to a failure to ensure that electricity services are progressively made available, on the basis of equality and non-discrimination.

“In November 2016, SERAP petitioned the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, urging him to probe the alleged spending of the $16 billion. In April 2017, SERAP sent President Muhammadu Buhari an open letter, advising him to take allegations of corruption in the power sector to the international criminal courts to ensure that justice is served.

“SERAP has also called on Mr Buhari to refer the alleged $16 billion spending on electricity between 1999 and 2007 to the EFCC. Mr Buhari subsequently raised questions over the issues, saying that ‘one of the former Heads of State was bragging that he spent more than 15 billion American dollars, not naira, on power. Where is the power? Where is the power?

“In August 2017, SERAP published a report, ‘From Darkness to Darkness: How Nigerians are Paying the Price for Corruption in the Electricity Sector’, which revealed how over N11 trillion meant to provide regular electricity supply was allegedly squandered under the governments of former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan”, the statement concluded.

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Meanwhile, the said report reads: “The Obasanjo’s administration spent $10 billion on NIPP with no results in terms of increase in power generation. $13.278,937,409.94 was expended on the power sector in eight years while unfunded commitments amounted to $12 billion.

“The Federal Government then budgeted a whopping N16 billion for the various reforms under Liyel Imoke (2003 to 2007) which went down the drains as it failed to generate the needed amount of electricity or meet the set goals. Imoke was alleged to have personally collected the sum of $7.8 million for the execution of the contract for the construction of the Jos-Yola Transmission Line, which was never executed. There were documented/reported allegations of corruption against Imoke that fizzled-out shortly thereafter.”

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Crime & Court

Just In: Oyo govt. withdraws criminal case against Akinlabi

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A criminal case instituted by the  Oyo State government against Hon. Kamil Akinlabi, a former member of the Federal House of Representative and Chairman, Oyo State Road Maintenance Agency (OYSROMA) has been discontinued and withdrawn by the State.

 

The suit (Oyo state govt vs Akinlabi) Hoy/5c/2016 which was to be revisited after several adjournments, was on Tuesday dismissed by Justice Iyabo Yerima at court Four of the Federal High Court in Ibadan.

 

The discontinuation was at the instance of the power of the State’s Attorney General, Prof. Oyelowo Oyewo, who told the court in a letter to discontinue the case which was taken to court in 2016 by a revered traditional ruler.

 

While reacting to the development, Akinlabi, who was appointed by the Seyi Makinde administration as the Chairman, Oyo State Road Maintenance Agency (OYSROMA) in 2019, said he was happy that justice prevailed on the matter despite that it took a long time.

 

“I must give kudos to the judiciary, you should see the unbiased prosecution of the case from the beginning till it was discontinued, it reaffirmed the fact that the court of law is truly the last hope for the common man.

 

“It is one thing to take an action and it is another thing to be ready to bear the consequence of that action, this I have shown and we are happy that the matter spoke for itself, even when charges were amended about two or three times, but I am glad to tell you today that it is a new dawn.

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“The Ministry of Justice came in today and withdrew the charges, the reasons, best known to them, but we thank God and whoever was behind the decision and this has given me the opportunity to accept that this is the period when the rule of law is held sacred.”

 

Akinlabi further urged government to improve the facilities in the law courts so as to make the judicial system better in its service to the people.

 

He lamented that Justices still write judgments with long hands when technology could be deployed for such, averring that introduction of modern technology would help hasten cases in law courts.

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Crime & Court

Ibadan: Couple Arraigned For Allegedly Stealing N2.7m From Bank

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibadan zonal office on Tuesday, arraigned an ex-banker, Akinwole Oluwaseun Dosunmu, alongside his wife, Motunrayo Olanike Dosunmu before Justice Ladiran Akintola of the Oyo State High Court, sitting in Ibadan.

The duo were accused of stealing the sum of N2, 740,300.92 (Two Million, Seven Hundred and Forty Thousand, Three Hundred Naira, Ninety-Two kobo) from the Sterling Bank Plc.

According to the available information, Akinwole was a staffer of the bank, while his wife was a customer and a beneficiary in the bank’s Third Party Acquirer Scheme.

The bank had initiated the scheme as a marketing strategy through which relatives and friends of their marketing agents are awarded commission for bringing new customers to open and operate new accounts with the bank. Akinwole, also a marketer with the bank, was appointed to coordinate the scheme.

Apart from the commission on account opening, the referral also enjoys certain percentage on the saving made through the accounts every month.

It was, however, alleged that while reviewing activities under the scheme in 2016, the bank discovered that most of the accounts appropriated to Motunrayo as a third-party acquirer were fraudulently tagged to her by her husband.

The investigation allegedly further revealed that the accounts were never sourced by neither of the couple, but by other third-party agents.

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According to the petition filed by the bank, the couple had benefited a total of N2, 740,300.9292 as commission fraudulently paid to Motunrayo through the scheme.

It was on account of the allegation and further investigations by the EFCC that the couple were arraigned on a 16-count charge of stealing on Tuesday.

The offence is contrary to Section 390 (9) of the Criminal Code Laws CAP 38, Laws of Oyo State, 2000.

Count one of the charge reads: That you, Akinwole Oluwaseun Dosunmu and Motunrayo Olanike Dosunmu between the months of July 2015 and April 2016 at Ibadan within the jurisdiction of this Honourable court, did commit an illegal act, to wit, stealing of the aggregate sum of N1,280,554.38 (One Million, Two Hundred and Eighty Thousand, Five Hundred and Fifty Four Naira, Thirty-Eight Kobo) property of Sterling Bank Plc under the guise that the account of one Odediran Oluwafemi and An Nee was generated by Motunrayo Olanike Dosunmu and thereby committed an offense.

The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against them.

In view of their plea, counsel to the EFCC, Ifeanyi Agwu, applied for a date for trial.
However, the defense counsel, J. B. Olaoye, informed the court that he had filed applications for bail on behalf of the accused persons.

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Justice Akintola has adjourned till Friday, February 21, 2020, for hearing of the bail applications.

The judge ordered that they be remanded in the Agodi, Ibadan custody of the Nigerian Correctional Service, NCS, pending the adjourned date.

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Crime & Court

Ibadan: EFCC Foils Man’s Attempt To Smuggle In Hard Drug For Detained Son

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has arrested a 60-year-old fish-farmer, Muyiwa Otuyalo, for attempting to smuggle in substance believed to be hard drug for his son, Damilola Otuyalo, who is currently in the custody of the commission’s Ibadan zonal office.

The older Otuyalo was at the premises of the EFCC in Ibadan on Monday, February 17, 2020 supposedly to visit his son. But while discussing with the son, an officer noticed that he brought out a sachet of tablets and handed same to him. The officer subsequently raise alarm which led to the confiscation of the drug.

When the in-house nurse was called upon for assessment of the content, it was revealed that the said item was Rohypnol, a tranquilizer used under strict prescription for treatment of severe insomnia and assist in anesthesia.
The drug is said to possess high sedative effect and is rarely used except when prescribed by licensed medical officers.

The younger Otuyalo was recently arrested after a criminal case of money laundering detected in the United Kingdom was reported against him. The case which involved £45,000 was a fragment of a wider one involving about £500,000 for which he has been declared wanted by the London’s Metropolitan Police. He has been on the wanted list of the International Police, Interpol, before the petition was filed at the EFCC, Ibadan zonal office.

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Officers of the Nigerian Interpol were already in contact with the commission in respect of the said case before the suspect’s father attempted to smuggle in the hard drug for him.

Further investigations are ongoing, even as the commission intends to hand him over to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, for possible prosecution of the suspected narcotic case.

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