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EFCC loses bid to seize Governor Matawalle’s Abuja properties

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The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Friday, dismissed a suit the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, filed for permission to confiscate six choice Abuja properties it said was traced to Governor Bello Matawale of Zamfara State.

The court, in a judgement that was delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo, dismissed the suit on the premise that section 308 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, conferred absolute immunity on serving governors.

Justice Ekwo held that such immunity, insulated the Zamfara state governor from both civil and criminal proceedings by EFCC or any other agency of the government.

He held that the anti-graft agency lacked the power to initiate any criminal proceeding that could lead to the forfeiture of assets belonging to the serving governor.

EFCC had told the court that the six properties are situated at plot 1327, Zone A05, plot 2934, plot 730 and plot 2804B, both located at Zone A06 Cadastral Zone, Maitama District.

Others are plot 729, Idu Industrial Layout and plot 575 BOO, in Kubwa District.

Justice Ekwo agreed with Matawale’s lawyer, Mr. Ahmed Raji, SAN, that the criminal proceedings activated against the governor by EFCC was an abuse of court process in view of his insulation from criminal trial by immunity law.

Although the Judge had on May 26, issued interim forfeiture order against the properties in a ruling on EFCC’S ex-parte application, he, however, vacated the order based on the established ownership claim by the governor and his request for dismissal of the suit.

While vacating the interim order, Justice Ekwo, held that EFCC was bereft of the locus standi to initiate a suit for forefeiture properties of a serving governor.

He held that the available option for the agency was for it to wait till the expiration of the governor’s tenure.

“From the avalanche of evidence placed before the court, there is no contest or dispute on the ownership of the properties. And from the position of the law, especially section 308 of the Constitution, EFCC has no other option than to wait till the end of tenure of office of the respondent.

“The owner of the properties, having shown up and found to be a serving governor, protected by section 308, EFCC’S suit is no longer sanctioned by law and any action, not sanctioned by law is an abuse of court process”, the court held.

EFCC had in its suit, claimed that it received an intellence report to the effect that governor Matawale on assumption of office, had been using Zamfara State’s fund to acquire multi-billion naira properties in choice areas of Abuja.

The governor was also alleged to have moved over N2.1billion from the state’s Ministry of Finance to the Directorate of Investment and Business under his office and used some companies and Bureau De Change (BDC) operators to launder the funds.

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Gridlock builds as trailer overturns on Otedola bridge

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A trailer carrying a crane on Thursday overturned on the Otedola bridge near the Alausa secretariat in Lagos causing traffic to build in the area.

Our correspondent who passed by the bridge noticed that security operatives consisting of the Nigerian Police Force, Nigerian Army, Lagos State Traffic Mananagement Authority were present at the scene

All vehicular movement from secretariat have been diverted from the Lagos-Ibadan expressway to CMD-Magodo road to link underneath Otedola bridge back to Lagos-Ibadan expressway.

According to reports, there was no death recorded but the driver of the trailer sustained an injury on his right ankle

The accident occured while the driver of the trailer was trying to avoid collision with a broken-down vehicle.

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‘Cars, computers missing’ — Adeleke gives ex-appointees 48 hours to return state properties

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Ademola Adeleke, the Osun governor, has asked former appointees of the state to return all government properties in their possession.

The directive was issued on Wednesday in a statement by Olawale Rasheed, spokesperson to the governor.

The directive comes hours after Adeleke revoked the appointments of some appointees of the previous administration, and dissolved all non-statutory boards of ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs).

According to Rasheed, the governor said any affected official who fails to comply with the order will face the wrath of the law.

“The Government of Osun State has directed former appointed officials to return government properties in their possession within 48 hours,” the statement reads.

“The directive was sequel to large scale diversion of government assets by top officials of the immediate past administration.

“Several official vehicles are missing while official records indicated that two third of former state officials left with fleet of car in their office.

“Most Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) were stripped of operational assets like vehicles, computers and even residential fittings. Residences of some top officials were equally pillaged even to lamp fitting.

“Any former official who refuses to comply with the directive will face the full weight of the law.”

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I did not sack 12,000 workers and 3 monarchs, says Adeleke

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Governor Ademola Adeleke of Osun state has denied sacking 12,000 workers and dethroning three monarchs in the monarchs.

Speaking on Rave FM in Osogbo during a talk show programme, “Frank Talk,” the spokesperson of the governor, Olawale Rasheed, said Adeleke has neither sacked 12,000 workers nor dethroned any monarch.

According to Rasheed, the appointments and employment by the administration of Oyetola will be reviewed to ensure due process.

According to him: “There was never sack of any worker or traditional ruler. We only set up a review panel. It is impossible to sack and put a review panel in place.

“The review panel is to look at the numbers of the people that were employed, due processes of the employment, and qualification among other things.

‘’Before our taking over, there were issues of backdating of employment, even till last year. So order 1-5 will be operationalized by order 6 which are the panels.

“Those that were employed from July 17 till our takeover are still at work presently, they have not been sacked. The staff audit will review the employment. Within 4 hours, Adeleke has dismantled the illegality of 4 months, all the bobby traps he has dismantled them.“

Recall that Adeleke signed Executive Orders 3, 4, and 5, nullifying all employment and appointments by his predecessor Gboyega Oyetola from July 17 till his inauguration on Monday.

He issued another Executive Order dethroning three of the monarchs installed by Oyetola.

He explained that executive order one to five shows the intentions of the administration to review, nullify, and set aside, and the instrumentality to effect the orders was order six which is the composition of the panel.

The order states: “All employments in the service of Osun State Government made in any capacity into any capacity in all the Ministries, Departments, Agencies, Commissions, Boards and Parastatals after July 17th, 2022 be and are hereby nullified.

“All appointments in the service of Osun State Government made in any capacity into any capacity in all the Ministries, Departments, Agencies, Commissions, Boards and Parastatals after 17th July, 2022 be and are hereby reversed.

“Executive Order number five on Chieftaincy Affairs and appointment of traditional rulers. All appointments of traditional rulers made by Osun State Government after 17th July, 2022, are hereby ordered to be reviewed to ensure there was strict compliance with due process of chieftaincy declarations and native law, custom and tradition relating to such chieftaincies.

“In the case of Ikirun, Iree and Igbajo, to avoid further breakdown of law and order, the appointments of Akinrun of Ikinrun, Aree of Ire and Owa of Igbajo are hereby put on hold pending review.

Subsequently, the palaces of Akinrun of Ikirun, Aree of Iree and Owa of Igbajo should remain unoccupied, while security agencies are hereby ordered to take charge.”

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