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Legal Practitioner Appeals To Buhari, Okowa, Malami To Help Recover Missing N300M Meant For Itsekiri Development

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Legal Practitioner Appeals To Buhari, Okowa, Malami To Help Recover Missing N300M Meant For Itsekiri Development
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Legal Practitioner Appeals To Buhari, Okowa, Malami To Help Recover Missing N300M Meant For Itsekiri Development

Legal practitioner and Warri Chief, Robinson Ariyo of the Robinson Ariyo & Co., Warri, has appealed to
President Muhammadu Buhari, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Malam Abubakar Malami to prevail on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over the missing N300 million from the account of the Itsekiri Regional Development Committee (IRDC).

He made the plea on Thursday during a press conference at the Olu of Warri Palace Hall.

The Egogo of Warri Kingdom said he resorted to sending a Save Our Souls (SOS) to President Buhari, Governor Okowa and Mallam Malami following the alleged failure of the EFCC, the Judiciary, the Force Headquarters, Abuja and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to bring the alleged culprits to book and retrieve the money.

The IRDC is the product of the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) initiated by Chevron Nigeria Ltd (CNL) to handle its corporate social responsibilities in 23 oil producing and impacted communities affected by its operations in Itsekiri land.

Representatives of CNL, Delta State government and leadership of the IRDC are signatories to an account domiciled in Keystone Bank Plc in which CNL is Category A signatory without which monies can be withdrawn.

It will be recalled that some social critics, sometime in 2019, had dragged the IRDC to court over the N1.2 billion in the account meant for developmental projects making the money inaccessible.

Legal Practitioner Appeals To Buhari, Okowa, Malami To Help Recover Missing N300M Meant For Itsekiri Development

Chief Ariyo said following a complaint from Engr. Tuasor Omatseye, Aginejuone Agbonekuya, Destiny Noritsegho and six others over a missing N300m from the N1.2 billion in Keystone Bank Plc account belonging to IRDC, he had approached the courts in Warri, the EFCC in Benin, the CBN and the police with suits and petitions, but were frustrated on frivolous excuses.

“The project account has three principal signatories: representatives of Chevron Nigeria Ltd (CNL), Delta State government, and the leadership of the IRDC.

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“CNL is signatory category A; meaning without it, no money can be withdrawn from the account,” he narrated.

He alleged that “at a Warri high court, there was a successful conspiracy to strike out the name of one of our clients – Aginejuone Agbonekuya.

“He then appealed that his name should not be struck out. The case was then transferred from Warri to Effurun.

“A team from the IRDC leadership, from the bank and some of the lawyers involved in the case came together without anyone’s knowledge and planned that N300m should be withdrawn from the account and shared in the name of ‘professional legal fees’ for lawyers.

“To do this, they needed to remove the names of those parties to the case who are claimants and who’ll not co-operate with them.

“So they filed a suit. It was in the morning of October 19, 2020, that they filed a court process to remove the names of two parties : Aginejuone and CNL whom they know would not co-operate with them.

“In the same morning when they filed this, they filed another one termed ‘Terms of Settlement.’ It means as soon as they removed those parties’ names, they filed a Term of Settlement and they adopted as a judgement of court that same day.

“In the Terms of Settlement, they wrote that they’ll take professional fees as ‘frontline charge’ from the account.

“Meanwhile, these cases were still pending in the appeal and Supreme Court. Ordinarily, before a party is removed from a case, the person should have a notice of it. This didn’t happen.

“They filed the Term of Settlement to close the case in the lower court, meanwhile the cases in the appellate courts are still subsisting,” he noted.

According to him, the alleged fraud started when the N300m out of the N2.1 billion in the account was withdrawn as 10 per cent legal fee.

“They claimed that the lawyers charged 10 per cent and I was a lawyer in the case. We never charged such. 10 per cent of what?

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“The money we met or the one we went to generate? Let’s even assume that it’s 10 per cent, but we know that N300 million is not 10 per cent of N2.1b. If they said it’s 10 per cent, it means they’ve stolen N90 million,” he alleged.

Chief Ariyo further explained that
“the leadership of the IRDC immediately applied for the order of the judgement of court which the judge, that morning, signed and they went ahead to sign Form 48 of the bank telling the bank that if it didn’t release the money, they’d commit the bank to prison.

“So, they were able to withdraw the money,” he averred.

He, however, exonerated CNL, the category A signatory to the account, saying it did not sign the document.

Displaying some relevant legal documents, the lawyer said the oil giant had deposed to an affidavit to the effect that it did not sign the papers before the withdrawal was made.

“Chevron has no notice of it, neither did it consent to the withdrawal of N300m from the IRDC account with the bank.

“They said they were not also privy to the ‘out of court’ settlement of the case. That the notice of whithdrawal was done in bad faith to surreptitiously remove the suit from thr court.

“They also removed CNL from the suit knowing they won’t agree with them,” he further alleged.

Narrating where the EFCC erred, the solicitor said the anti-graft agency was petitioned on November 24, 2020 over the infractions.

“We petitioned the EFCC and annexed all the documents to Benin. At the end, the EFCC said we had reported the matter to too many agencies and that there’s a civil matter in the court so they can’t investigate further,” he asserted, saying there’s a court judgement that support that both civil and criminal matters can go together.

While alleging compromise by the EFCC officials, Chief Ariyo said his team wrote the CBN to penalise the erring bank for unprofessional conduct of allowing a withdrawal from a corporate account without the compulsory assent of Signatory A.

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“CBN replied saying that since there was a civil matter in court, they can’t look into the case.

“We wrote the police at Zone 5, Benin. They found merit in it. They invited the IRDC leaders, who reluctantly came with govt officials.

Legal Practitioner Appeals To Buhari, Okowa, Malami To Help Recover Missing N300M Meant For Itsekiri Development

“They were let go without any form of documentation. After more pressure, the police issued a second invitation and later a bench warrant.

“As they were about to arrest them, a call came from Abuja saying Force Headquarters had taken over the matter. And that we, the petitioners, were suspect of engaging in a conduct capable of breaching public peace,” he narrated.

He called on President Buhari, Governor Okowa and the Attorney General of the Federation, Malami, Chief Ariyo, he disclosed that he had been offered sumptuous gratification to jettison the case against his conscience and well-being of squalid Itsekiri communities, adding that his team escaped the travesty of justice when he eventually petitioned Buhari and Malami.

“I then petitioned Buhari and Malami which slowed them down. I’ve gone to the executive, it has failed. I’ve gone to the judiciary, it has failed. Where else will I go to for justice except the Fourth Estate of the Realm,” the Egogo of Warri Kingdom queried.

Ariyo, while underscoring the danger in abandoning the case, warned: “this is too dangerous. We live in a society of public private-partnership. I’m under pressure to remove the case from the court.

“But I can’t keep quiet. Having failed in the regular court, I want the court of public opinion. I’m being branded as someone stalling the balance of N1.8 billion in the bank.

“I’m bothered when people do evil and get away with it, it encourages more people to do evil.

“There are primary schools with leaking roofs, no chairs, no books in Itsekiri land and yet the embezzlers are living comfortably. Oil and gas won’t be here forever.”

Caption: Chief Ariyo addressing the press on Thursday in Warri.

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Obituary: Dr. Chike Akunyili’s Burial Poster (Photos)

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Obituary: Dr. Chike Akunyili’s Burial Poster (Photos)

The burial Poster for the burial of Dr. Chike Akunyili has been released by his family.

He will be buried in his country home, Agulu in Anambra State, on Thursday 25th November, 2021.

Dr Chike Akunyili, husband of former NAFDAC boss, Late Professor Dora Akunyili, was killed by unknown gunmen in Nkpor, Anambra state on Tuesday, 28th September, 2021.

Obituary: Dr. Chike Akunyili's Burial Poster (Photos)

Obituary: Dr. Chike Akunyili's Burial Poster (Photos)

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Obiano Signs Anambra Anti-open Grazing Bill Into Law (photo)

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Obiano Signs Anambra Anti-open Grazing Bill Into Law

Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano has assented to and signed the bill to prohibit and abolish open and nomadic Cattle and other livestock grazing and rearing in Anambra State, establish Cattle and other livestock Ranches in the state and to provide for related matters.

The signing ceremony was performed today, Friday, 22nd October, 2021 at the Governor’s Lodge, Amawbia.

Obiano Signs Anambra Anti-open Grazing Bill Into Law

Performing the function, Governor Obiano who appreciated the state house of Assembly for expeditious passage, said that the establishment of the law will hopefully enable entrenchment of peace, though they have been managing crisis for a very long time which were only short term measures, stressing that the law enforcement agents have been directed to implement it.

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Present at the brief ceremony were the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Barrister Uju Nworgu, Secretary to the State Government, Professor Solo Chukwulobelu, Commissioner for Police, Mr. Echeng Echeng, Commissioner for Agriculture, Chief Nnamdi Onkwuba, Chairman of South East Council of Traditional Rulers, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, Traditional Ruler of Okpuno, Igwe Sunday Okafor, Traditional Ruler of Mbaukwu, Igwe Peter Anugwu, Member representing Awka North at the State House of Assembly, House Committee Chairman on Agriculture, Chief John Nwokoye, Members of the Hausa Community in the state, among others.

Obiano Signs Anambra Anti-open Grazing Bill Into Law

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EndSARS: Lekki residents donate office block to police station

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EndSARS: Lekki residents donate office block to police station
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EndSARS: Lekki residents donate office block to police station

The Lekki Estates Residents and Stakeholders Association (LERSA) has donated an office block to Ajiwe Police Station, Ajah, Lagos, to support policing of the area.

LERSA President, Chief James Emadoye, while inspecting the building on Wednesday preparatory to its inauguration and handing over to the Nigeria Police Force, said the project was 95 per cent completed.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that many police stations and business premises and property were destroyed during the EndSARS protests exactly a year ago.

According to Emadoye, the building, which awaits painting and completion of the restrooms, will be delivered to the Inspector General of Police through the Lagos State Commissioner of Police.

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He said the association had intervened in several ways to bring succour to security operatives including the donation of canopies, generator, chairs and various humanitarian materials after the #EndSARS destruction.

EndSARS: Lekki residents donate office block to police station

“Members of the association recall the wanton destruction that followed the unfortunate incidence of the protests last year.

“The association almost completed the development of a block of office to accommodate the police, while waiting for government’s full construction of the police station, which was totally destroyed last year.

“The Exco of LERSA approved and released the sum of N8.5 million for the project, which was donated financially and materially by the members.

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“You will recall also that the association has, between Oct. 20, 2020 and today, donated two vehicles to the Nigerian

Police to assist them in the discharge of their duties.

“As at today, we would like to thank God that this project is 95 per cent completed,” he said.

Emadoye noted that the association was committed to continually intervene in all manners, as a responsible organisation with programmes that would affect the lives of citizens in Lekki area.

He commended Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu-led government over the maintenance of the roads and for the progress made in the construction of the Lekki Regional Road.

“We trust that the government would fulfill its promises by starting the coastal road before the end of its term in office.

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“On this anniversary of the EndSARS campaign, we at LERSA pray for a better Lagos devoid of destruction.

“A Lagos of peace and tranquility and a true mega city, which will be home to all and a greater Lekki Peninsula, which shall be the destination for living, tourism and businesses in Nigeria.”

CSP Tajudeen Mustapha, Divisional Police Officer on hand at the project inspection, commended the association’s assistance to the Nigeria Police Force.

He noted that the building would be used and continuously maintained to the very high standard that the association had provided.

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