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Osun monarch testifies against defendant in alleged N525m fraud

Owolola Adebola

The trial of one Philemon Gora, Osigwe Edison, and Gracious Environ Workers Limited & Planners Nigeria Limited, before Justice S.O. Solebo of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos for an alleged N525 million fraud, continued today, March 24, 2022, with their victim, a monarch from Osun State, His Royal Highness, Oba Jacob Esan testifying against them as the prosecution’s third witness.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had on December 6, 2021, arraigned the defendants on a 10-count charge bordering on stealing, conspiracy to obtain by false witness and obtaining by false pretence.

One of the counts reads: “Philemon Ibrahim Gora, Osigwe Tobechukwu Edison and Gracious Environ Workers Limited & Planners Nigeria Limited, sometime in 2021, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court,and with intent to defraud, did conspire amongst yourselves to steal the total sum of N525,000,000 (Five Hundred and Twenty-five Million Naira) property of HRH Jacob Esan.”

Another count reads: “Philemon Ibrahim Gora, Osigwe Tobechukwu Edison and Gracious Environ Workers Limited & Planners Nigeria Limited, sometime in 2021, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, dishonesty converted to your own use the total sum of N300,000,000 (Three Hundred Million Naira) property of Liberitas Plc.”

The defendants are further accused of defrauding Mabilla Resource Ltd. of the sum of N140million, and Covidol Traders, UAE of the sum of N85million.

They pleaded “not guilty” to the charges.

Gora who is being prosecuted by the EFCC at a Federal Capital Territory, FCT High Court, Abuja for another alleged fraud, was arrested by the EFCC in July 2021, following the petition against him.

He allegedly obtained the sum of N525 million from the traditional ruler, with the assurance of helping him convert it to United Arab Emirate, UAE, Dirham; but, he never did, and instead, converted the money to his personal use.

At today’s proceeding, the Kabiyesi, who was led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, informed the Court that previously he was “an investment banker and currently an entrepreneur”.

He further testified that he founded a number of companies including Liberitas Plc, which according to him was established in 2017 “to provide low-cost housing in Nigeria”.

He testified that Mabilla Resource Ltd was part of a group of companies that he worked with to deliver on regenerating the Nigerian economy. He also identified Covidol Traders, UAE.

“I know them, and I worked with them as part of a group of companies I work with, with which we have a strategic partnership to deliver on regenerating this country’s potential,” he said.

Testifying further, he said, his company had entered into a strategic partnership with FORSA, a company in South Africa, which deals in the use of formworks to build three-bedroom flats in two to three days. He said the aim was to address the housing problems in the country.

He testified that he had a meeting with the Osun State governor to assist in using the technology to construct 7,200 housing units.

He said: “We entered into an  MoU with the Osun State Property Development Commission.

“Subsequently, I needed to purchase the formworks and the invoice was raised for that.

“I instructed that the invoice be paid for.

“So I delegated that they should source for the currency to enable us to pay for the invoice so that we can start development.”

According to him, subsequently, in sourcing for the currency, Liberitas, Covidol and Mabilla transferred a total sum of N525 million to Gracious Environ Workers Limited & Planners Nigeria Limited.

He said: “However, I now know from the investigation that Philemon Gora conspired with some other persons known and unknown to me now, to collect and represent that they can provide the equivalent of the money.

“But instead, as I speak, my lord, we have not received value in whatever form.”

He alleged that Gora merely squandered the money to personal use.

The case has been adjourned from May 9 to 13, 2022 for the continuation of the trial.

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Headlines

IGP grieves over assault on policewoman

Prof. Zainab Duke Abiola

 

— orders prosecution of culprits
 Owolola Adebola

The Inspector-General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali Baba,  has strongly condemned the grievous assault of a female Police Officer, Inspector Teju Moses, by her principal who is a Legal practitioner and human rights activist, Prof. Zainab Duke Abiola and her domestic staff comprising the housemaid, one Rebecca Enechido and a male suspect currently at large.

Zainab Duke, a Mbaise-born activist, grievously assaulted her orderly in the company of some accomplices on Tuesday 20th September 2022 at her residence in Garki, Abuja, due to the refusal of the orderly to breach professional ethics by carrying out menial and domestic chores at her house.

The IGP also directed the express prosecution of the arrested suspects who are currently in Police custody, as the preliminary investigation shows overwhelming evidence of culpability on the part of the Professor and her domestic staff.

The IGP has equally tasked the investigative team to ensure that the fleeing suspect is arrested and made to face the wrath of the law.

It is pertinent to clarify that the suspect, Prof. Zainab, who name-drops the IGP, his family members, and other officers in the top hierarchy of the Force has no acquaintance with the Police in any form as erroneously peddled on social media.

The Inspector-General of Police who similarly ordered the withdrawal of all Police personnel attached to the Professor expressed consternation at the fact that an individual who claims to be an advocate for Human Rights could stoop so low as to violate the rights of another individual, a police officer tasked with ensuring her protection.

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Customs

Customs collects N1.7trn  revenue in 8 months

CGC, Ali

 

–embarks on aggressive revenue hunts to meet target

The Eyewitness reporter

The Nigeria Customs Service has collected a whooping sum of  N1,755,386,486,390.02  as revenue in the first eight months of the year spanning January and August.

The service made the highest monthly earnings of N241,903,781,854.46 in August as the service intensifies its aggressive revenue drive to meet the expectations of the Federal Government which has come to rely on the revenue from the service to fund its critical project.

This follows the diversification of government to non-oil sectors and expands its tax base due to the dwindling revenue from the oil sector.
The revenue in the first eight months of 2022 is N363,436,321,614.95 higher than N1,391,950,164,775.97 the customs collected in the corresponding period of 2021.

Abuja has increased its focus on non-oil revenue sources, prompting higher expectations from revenue collection agencies such as the NCS, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), among others.

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Headlines

Jamoh wears OFR diadem as Buhari confers national honour on NIMASA DG

 

The Eyewitness reporter 
The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Bashir Jamoh, has expressed deep appreciation to President Mohammed Buhari for being conferred with one of the highest national honours in Nigeria, Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR).

The Office of the Honourable Minister, Ministry of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Senator George Akume, has conveyed this good news to Dr Jamoh in a letter of Award which has slated the investiture ceremony for the International Conference Center (ICC), Abuja on Monday, 10th October 2022.

Recall that Dr. Jamoh had served the Nigerian maritime sector as an administrator for over 30 years when he was appointed by President Buhari as the NIMASA DG in March 2020.

Since that time, he has overseen the successful deployment of the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure otherwise known as the Deep Blue Project which has played a major role in achieving a reduction of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea to its barest minimum since 1994 and culminating in Nigeria being removed from the infamous piracy red list by the International Maritime Bureau, IMB.

A hallmark of his tenure at the helm of NIMASA has been his institutionalization of collaboration among stakeholders, within and outside the country, to achieve significant milestones in the sector.

One notable example of this is his initiation of the Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaboration Forum/ Shared Awareness and De-confliction (GOG-MCF/SHADE), which has demonstrated the positive outcomes of information sharing among regional and non-regional military forces in achieving a secure maritime space.

Reacting to the news on his social media handle, Dr Jamoh expressed gratitude for being considered for the honour stating:

“Words cannot express how humbled I feel to be so considered for the National Honour as an Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR).

“When I began my maritime journey 30 years ago, little did I know that Almighty Allah would so favour me to rise to the position of NIMASA DG, let alone to be considered for one of the highest honours in the land”.

Dr Jamoh especially thanked His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, and the Standing Committee on National Honours Award for deeming him worthy of the honour while also appreciating everyone who had supported him throughout his tenure as NIMASA Director General, especially the maritime stakeholders.

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