By Dipo Olowookere
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has been accused of pushing for the sack of Presiding Chaplain of the Chapel of Christ the Light, Alausa, Lagos State barely 24 hours after the Governor’s wife, Mrs Bolanle Ambode, allegedly stormed out of the church.
According to Punch, there is anger at the Chapel of Christ the Light, Alausa, Lagos State, after the Presiding Chaplain, Venerable Femi Taiwo, was sacked by the Governing Council allegedly on the order of the state Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode.
PUNCH Metro gathered that Taiwo got the sack on Monday, May 15, without any query or official reason stated in the sack letter.
He was said to have been ordered out of his official quarters where he lived with his wife and two children within 24 hours of receiving the letter.
Despite pleadings from church leaders and other reputable elders in the church, the government was said to have insisted that the cleric must leave the church.
Some church members reportedly contributed money to buy gas cooker, and other household items for the family as they vacated the vicarage.
Investigations by our correspondent showed that Taiwo had angered the Governor’s wife, Bolanle Ambode, who had visited the chapel on Sunday, May 14, when the church held an anointing service.
The church is under the Lagos State Ministry of Home Affairs, while the Office of the Lagos State First Lady supervises church.
Church members were said to have filed out to receive anointing oil during the May 14 service without any preference given to Bolanle, who waited endlessly with her entourage.
She was said to have later moved to be anointed and moments later, stormed out of the church, as some of the women leaders ran after her.
Bolanle, who was reported to be visibly angry, allegedly shunned entreaties from the women, which included the wife of the presiding chaplain.
The cleric got the sack the following day.
The directive was issued in a letter dated, May 15, 2017, and signed by the Chairman, Governing Council of CCTL, Mr. Olugbenga Solomon. The letter also ordered the Assistant Chaplain, Very Rev. Ayo Oyadotun, to take over with immediate effect.
A church member, who witnessed the drama and begged not to be identified, said , “The church had declared seven-day fasting after we lost two prominent members.
“The Sunday service, which was declared as anointing service, was supposed to end the fasting.
“The First Lady, Mrs. Bolanle Ambode, was present with her entourage. She comes to the church once in a while.
“When it was time to be anointed, the cleric asked people to come forward, adding that it was optional. Three people stood at the stage to anoint people. They included the chaplain, the presiding chaplain and one other person.
“People started stepping out one after another. The governor’s wife, after some time, also stepped out and was anointed.”
The source said within a few minutes of taking the oil, Bolanle, who felt disrespected, stepped out with her entourage.
Another member of the church said, “As she stepped out, it was obvious that she was angry.
“The president of the women’s fellowship and the pastor’s wife ran after her. She shunned them, entered her car and zoomed off.
“When we came to the church on Tuesday, we heard that Venerable Taiwo had been sacked. We were told that he was sacked because the the governor’s wife didn’t get the anointing oil first and she felt disrespected.
“The man that signed the letter is also a civil servant,” the source said.
The governing council is said to be made up of members of the church and some appointees of the government.
PUNCH Metro learnt that Taiwo still had two years to spend as the presiding chaplain when he was fired.
The source said some church members quickly bought household items for his family as they vacated the church premises on Thursday.
He said, “The children went to school on Thursday without knowing that they would not be staying in the vicarage that evening. Church members bought bed and other household items for them because they did not have their own property.
“The members said their pastor did not offend them, and protested the sacking. The governing council members, however, said they should forget it because whatever came from Alausa was final. Most of the church members are civil servants who can’t talk too much.”
Our correspondent reached out to leaders of the church, including Oyadotun, who refused to comment.
However, one of those that confirmed the incident, begged not to be named.
He said the reason Taiwo got the sack was not stated in the letter, adding that the action was not unconnected from the visit of the wife of the governor.
He said, “Let me be straight with you, in the letter there was no reason for the sack. Whatever you are hearing are what members of the church believed could have happened. And there was indeed a protest by the church and the governing council assuaged them on the sacking.
“There was nothing official in that sacking. No investigation, no query, nothing. We had an anointing service on that Sunday. The following day, the venerable was served the sack letter.”
When PUNCH Metro reached out to Taiwo, he said he did not want to comment.
He said, “If you have any enquiry, direct it to the church. But one thing I can say is that I have tried as a pastor to live above board. It will not be right engaging the church or the government on the pages of a newspaper.”
The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Steve Ayorinde, said, “The former chaplain had been queried a number of times in the past for conducts unbecoming of his office. The culmination of various indiscretions led to the Governing Council of the church issuing yet another query that led to his being relieved of his post.
“This has got nothing to do with the First Lady. The Chaplain is looking for an excuse to cover his insouciance. It’s nothing but cheap blackmail.”
Court Acquits Jide Omokore of $1.6bn Fraud, Convict Two Others
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
Mr Jide Omokore, an ally of former Minister of Petroleum, Ms Diezani Alison-Madueke, has been acquitted by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.
Mr Omokore was accused by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of laundering funds to the tune of $1.6 billion.
However, at the ruling on Tuesday, February 7, 2023, Justice Dimgba held that the anti-money laundering organisation could not prove its case against Mr Omokore and two companies linked to him, Atlantic Energy Brass Limited and Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited.
But two other persons linked to the matter, Victor Briggs and Abiye Membere, both former top officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), were convicted by the court today.
They were found guilty of “unethically collecting car gifts as public officials,” in contravention of section 98 of the Criminal Code Act.
According to the trial judge, public officials must act at arm’s length with private individuals, especially those that have business relations with their departments or agencies. They would be kept in the custody of the EFCC pending their sentencing on Wednesday.
In a statement issued after the ruling, the EFCC expressed shock over the acquittal of Mr Omokore, vowing to challenge it at the appeal court.
The agency dragged Mr Omokore and others to court, alleging that he used the Strategic Alliance Agreement signed between the NPDC and Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited to swindle the NPDC and the Nigerian government of monies running into billions of dollars through the lifting of crude oil from some oil wells between March 2013 and May 2014.
The other defendants, who were senior management staff of the NNPC, were accused of conspiracy in inducing the NPDC to facilitate the lifting of crude by Mr Omokore, Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited and Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited; and receiving car gifts from Omokore, Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited and Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited.
“That you, Olajide Jones Omokore, Atlantic Energy Brass Development Ltd, Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Ltd and Kolawole Akanni Aluko (now at large) between May 2013 and March 2014 within the jurisdiction of this court obtained by false pretence and with intent to defraud, 7,551,867 barrels of crude oil (Brass blend) valued at the sum of $823,75,189.95 from Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Federal Government of Nigeria on the false pretence that you had funds (both local and foreign) necessary to support the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Limited in petroleum operation for the OML 60,61, 62 and 63 and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1(a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act Cap. A6, 2010, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria and punishable under Section 1(3) of the same Act,” one of the charges read.
Supreme Court Affirms Ahmad Lawan as APC Yobe North Senatorial Candidate
By Dipo Olowookere
The president of the senate, Mr Ahmad Lawan, has been affirmed as the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for the Yobe North Senatorial District.
At a ruling delivered on Monday, February 6, 2023, the Supreme Court nullified the candidacy of Mr Bashir Machina.
Mr Machina and Mr Lawan had been at loggerhead over the party’s ticket for the slot.
The Senate President had contested the APC presidential primary along with the eventual winner of the exercise, Mr Bola Tinubu, and was said to have pushed forward Mr Machina as a placeholder.
However, after he lost in his bid to become the presidential candidate of the party, he turned to Mr Machina, who refused to back down, stressing that it was his turn to represent the senatorial district at the National Assembly and that the Senate President never participated in the party’s primary.
The number three citizen of the country had earlier accepted his fate, but his party took the matter up until today’s judgement, which has restored his hopes of remaining in the upper chamber of the parliament.
Justice Centus Nweze, in the lead judgement, faulted the approach of Mr Machina in commencing the suit at the Federal High Court Damaturu division by way of originating summons and without oral evidence to prove allegations of fraud.
Boss Mustapha Not Working Against Tinubu—APC Group
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
A support group of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) known as the APC Mandate Defenders (AMD) has denied claims that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, was working against the presidential candidate of the party, Mr Bola Tinubu.
In a statement signed by the National Publicity Secretary of APC Mandate Defenders, Mr Ifeanyi Emeka, the organisation said Mr Mustapha supports the candidacy of the former Governor of Lagos.
He stated that the allegations made against the SGF by another support group of the ruling party, Concerned APC Stakeholders (CAS), were false, describing Mr Mustapha as a well-respected party leader who has great respect and close relationship with Mr Tinubu right from when he was the Deputy National Chairman of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) for Northern Region and would not engage in any real or imaginary plot to sabotage the electoral chances of the APC and its candidate.
According to him, the SGF is preoccupied with the task of meeting the demands of the transitional period, which mostly rests on his office as a frontline secretariat for the presidency as the administration gradually winds down and does not have the time to work against Mr Tinubu.
AMD asked CAS to tell Nigerians how following due process in board appointments for federal government agencies amounts to sabotaging the electoral chances of the party and its candidate in the forthcoming presidential election.
Recall that the SGF had advised Nigerians to be wary of scammers who use his name and office to dupe people while promising them non-existing government appointments.
“Therefore, we urge Nigerians and party members across the federation to ignore the allegation against Boss Mustapha as he cannot be forced into providing appointments to people by threats of blackmails as such responsibility rests squarely on the desk of Mr President and Commander-in-Chief.
“Associating such frustration with the campaigns of the presidential candidate of our great party, Senator Bola Tinubu, by CAS is a diversionary tactic against the overall interest of our party and Nigeria as a nation,” a part of the statement said.
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