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Appeal Court refuses to unfreeze Ex-CJ’s account

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The  Court of Appeal has explained why it refused to unfreeze the Zenith Bank account of a former Chief Judge of Enugu State, Justice Innocent Umezulike (retd), who is being prosecuted for allegedly using his then office to confer corrupt or unfair advantage on himself.

The Court of Appeal had delivered a summary of the ruling on December 7, but our correspondent on Sunday sighted a copy of the full ruling detailing the reasons Umezulike’s appeal against the freezing order was dismissed.

A three-man panel of the Court of Appeal, led by Justice Helen Ogunwumiju, unanimously agreed with the decision of Justice A.M. Liman of the Federal High Court in Enugu that there was no legal basis to grant the prayer sought by the former Chief Judge.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had through an ex parte application obtained the order freezing Umezulike’s account from the Federal High Court in Enugu on February 23, 2017, but later charged and subsequently arraigned him before the High Court of Enugu State on July 4, 2017.

The anti-graft agency had alleged that the Zenith Bank account was bearing N50m connected with the proceeds of the crime for which it was prosecuting the former Chief Judge.

Umezulike had later applied to the Federal High Court, asking for an order setting aside the freezing order.

But Justice Liman, on June 2, 2017, dismissed the application.

Through his counsel, Prof. Agu Agu, Umezulike later filed an appeal against the June 2, 2017 decision of the Federal High Court.

The EFCC, through its counsel, Mr. Wahab Shittu, had opposed the appeal.

But in dismissing the appeal, Justice Ogunwumiju who delivered the lead ruling of the Court of Appeal, agreed with Justice Liman who had held that “where a freezing order is made by one court, and a trial is instituted in another court,” the court which originally granted the freezing order “may lose the power to review its earlier order.”

The Federal High Court had added that “but the court trying the charge may be entitled, in appropriate cases, to review the terms of the freezing order.”

Agreeing, Justice Ogunwumiju held that although the order of the Enugu Division of the Federal High Court delivered on February 23, 2017, had lapsed after 60 days, Umezulike could only file any “necessary application” before the High Court of Enugu State where he is being prosecuted.

The lead ruling of the Court of Appeal read in part, “However, I need to state that by the terms of the order, the order made on February 23, 2017 should have automatically lapsed after 60 days on April 23, 2017.

“As of the time the ruling at the lower court was given on June 2, 2017, the order had abated and no longer existed.

“The records do not reveal that any other subsequent order was sought for nor obtained. In effect, there is no existing lawful order of court freezing the account of the appellant as of now.

“As things stand now, the parties are at liberty to make appropriate applications before the court where the substantive criminal trial is pending.”

The Court of Appeal also held that it could not grant the appellant’s alternative prayer which sought the transfer of the case before the Federal High Court to the Enugu State High Court.

Justice Ogunwumiju held that “it would be an injudicial intrusion by this court into that trial” to grant such a prayer which she said was “inappropriate by reason of being legally misconceived.”

She ruled, “That would be an abuse of the powers of the appellate court,” adding that, “The appeal is devoid of merit and is hereby dismissed. Appeal dismissed.”

Two other members of the panel, Justices Ignatius Agube and Rita Pemu agreed with the lead ruling.

In his contribution, Justice Agube held that the Federal High Court’s ex-parte order had automatically lapsed “if the matter was not charged to court or the order renewed.”

He added, “I abide by the opinion of my Lord on the need for parties to make the necessary applications before the Court where the substantive Criminal trial is pending.”

He too rejected the application for the transfer of the application to the High Court of Enugu State where the former Chief Judge is being tried.

The EFCC had on July 14, 2017, arraigned Umezulike on one count of using his office to confer corrupt or unfair advantage on himself.

The commission alleged that the defendant in February 2014, Umelzulike invited to the launching of his book and received donation of N10m from one Prince Arthur Eze, who was a litigant in pending civil matters presided over by the defendant as the then the Chief Judge.

Source: ( Punch Newspaper )

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National News

Shehu Sani Reacts To Hisbah’s Call For Scrapping Of Black Friday

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Shehu Sani Reacts To Hisbah's Call For Scrapping Of Black Friday

Shehu Sani

Former lawmaker, Senator Shehu Sani has reacted to the call for the scrapping of the popular ‘Black Friday’sales by the Kano State Hisbah Board.

Recall that earlier on Friday, the board asked a radio station, demanding that it stops using the word “Black Friday” to refer to Friday.

Also Read: TECNO Stormed Computer Village with BBNaija’s OZO to Wrap up its Black Friday Sales Activities

The board explained that since Friday is regarded as a holy day in Islam, tagging it “Black Friday” is derogatory and a thus, should not be condoned.

Reacting to the statement, the former lawmaker from Kaduna described the threat by the Hisbah board as ‘nonsensical.”

He wrote:

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Court Orders Release Of Sen. Ndume From Kuje Prison

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Court Orders Release Of Sen. Ndume From Kuje Prison

Ali Ndume

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has granted bail to Senator Ali Ndume who was detained in prison on Monday following the failure to produce Abdulrasheed Maina in court.

This was made known by the presiding judge, Justice Okon Abang in a ruling on Friday, November 27.

Also Read: BREAKING: Court Fixes Date For Ndume’s Bail Application

He stated that he chose to grant the senator bail based on his record of good behaviour before the court, notwithstanding that the other grounds of his bail application failed.

Justice Abang granted bail to Senator Ndume pending the hearing and determination of the Borno South Senator’s appeal filed at the Court of Appeal to challenge Monday’s order.

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We Deliberately Shut Down Refineries – NNPC GMD

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We Deliberately Shut Down Refineries – NNPC GMD

NNPC boss, Mele Kyari

The Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, has expressed that the corporation deliberately shut down the nation’s refineries because they became unsustainable.

The GMD disclosed this when he appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Upstream in Abuja.

He pointed out that the NNPC was unable to supply crude oil to the refineries, adding that the Excravos pipeline is the only one the NNPC managed to sustain through the contracting process.

He went on to express that it is practically impossible to run pipelines at their optimum capacity.

Also ReadBREAKING: NNPC Raises Petrol Depot Price, Marketers To Sell At N168-N170/Litre

“For instance, to run Kaduna and Warri refinery, you need to deliver 170,000 barrel of oil per day so that both will operate at 70 percent capacity,” he said.

Kyari said that at the moment, it only had over 5,000 kilometers of pipelines with 13 fuel depots, which according to him must be protected to forestall the activities of vandals.

“And I can tell you today that except the Atlas cove to Ibadan line and also the Portharcourt to Aba line, none of these pipelines is serviced.

“We cannot flow product into these lines, the cheap one is to say they are aged but the real reason is that the level of activities of vandals on these lines is gross, monumental, and profound.

“At every point within a month we fix 80 vandal points, the option is to shut them down and the result of having one depot is what we have seen in Lagos,” he said.

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