By Dipo Olowookere
Former Plateau State Governor, Mr Joshua Dariye, has again lost his bid to scuttle his N1.162 billion fraud trial, preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Justice Adebukola Banjoko of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, Gudu, Abuja, on March 6, 2017 threw out his motion seeking for his lordship to be disqualified from the trial.
Mr Dariye, who is facing a 23-count charge for allegedly diverting the state’s Ecological Fund to private companies including Ebenezer Retnan Ventures and Pinnacle Communications Limited, had in January lost in a similar bid, having applied to Justice U.I. Bello, the Chief Judge, CJ of the FCT High Court, accusing the trial judge of “manifest and undisguised bias”, and seeking for the case file to be transferred to another judge.
The CJ threw out the application and ordered Mr Dariye to go and continue with his trial before the judge as his allegation of bias was “baseless”.
At the time Mr Dariye sent his letter to the CJ, dated December 13, 2016 his defence counsel, G.S. Pwul, SAN, also brought two motions to the court, one of which was the one asking the trial judge to “disqualify” his lordship from the case.
He had also applied to the court, seeking for the recall of two principal witnesses, Musa Sunday, an EFCC operative who was cross-examined by both the prosecution and defence on January 25, 2016 and Peter Clark, a retired detective constable with the United Kingdom, UK Metropolitan Police, who was cross-examined by both counsels on May 9, 2016.
At the last sitting on March 2, 2017 Pwul, while arguing the applications, contended that it was necessary to recall the witnesses “in relation to new evidence”.
Citing exhibits D6 – D34 as the reasons for the recall, he further argued that there was need to further cross-examine Sunday as regards transactions between the Plateau State government and Pinnacle Communications Limited. He had also urged the court to summon Clark “in relation to his evidence and investigation activities carried out in the United Kingdom and to confront him with new evidence”.
Prosecution counsel, Adeniyi Adebisi, in his argument contended that the defence was provided with the list of all the witnesses in the proof of evidence, which included the names of the witnesses, which it wanted to bring to the court.
He added that “the defence knew in advance the witnesses to be called by the prosecution and so had adequate time and opportunity to review their statements and all evidence referred to were in existence and available long before Musa Sunday and Peter Clark testified before the court”.
Adebisi further argued that: “Dariye was present at all proceedings and well represented by his counsel who thoroughly cross-examined the two witnesses.” He reminded the court that Clark had retired and during the trial “the defence was never stampeded and the court didn’t force the counsel to conclude his cross-examination”.
He surmised that: “The applications are a ploy to delay the case and the Supreme Court has given directive for expeditious hearing”. He urged the court to dismiss the applications “with substantial cost”.
Justice Banjoko in ruling on the motion seeking for his lordship to be disqualified from the case, said: “I have no interest whatsoever in this case and I have so far presided over the case without fear or favour, and in line with my oath of office and so the motion lacks merit and is accordingly dismissed.”
The trial judge ruling on the second motion, noted that “the defence has called 16 witnesses and is now seeking to reopen prosecution’s case when defence is still going on”, and “the prosecution has already closed its case”.
The trial judge citing several authorities noted that while a recall by a party involved in a case is not out of order, “a recall is permitted only by a trial judge” and based on two facts that the party seeking a recall brings to the court “good enough facts as well as questions he intends to ask the witness which in this instance the defence has not done”.
While dismissing the application seeking for recall of Clark, the trial judge ruled that: “I have carefully considered all the authorities and submissions of counsels and found that Peter Clark the prosecution witness nine, PW9, resides in a territorial jurisdiction outside of Nigeria and in his oral testimony he stated that he retired on 9 March 2015, and came to Nigeria on his own freewill to see to the end of an investigation he started and the court can see that the witness was extensively cross-examined by the defence and the defence was not curtailed or prevented and so had maximum advantage to cross-examine him.”
The trial judge noted that Clark was a master of his own time and there was nothing to hold that he still resides in the UK since his retirement and moreover, he was not a “compellable witness”.
“The application is hereby denied and accordingly dismissed,” the trial judge held.
Justice Banjoko while adjourning to March 16, 2017 “for defence to continue”, however acceded to the request of the defence to recall Sunday for “further cross-examination in the interest of justice” and because he still resides in the “territorial jurisdiction of Nigeria”.
Ikeja Electric Signs Deal for Better Power Supply to Ayobo
By Adedapo Adesanya
A tripartite interconnected mini-grid agreement has been signed by Ikeja Electric Plc, Enaro Energy Limited and the Ayobo community for the provision of reliable and uninterrupted electricity supply to Ishokan Phase 1 Estate, Mercy Land Estate, and Mercy Land Phase1 residents in Ayobo, Lagos State.
The initiative is in line with the Nigerian Electricity Regulation Commission’s (NERC) goal of ensuring there is a reliable and steady power supply across communities in the country through partnerships between distribution companies (DisCos) and independent power generators.
The agreement, which was signed on Wednesday at Ikeja Electric’s corporate headquarters in Alausa, Lagos, will rely on the interconnected mini-grid initiative of the power sector to provide the customers with an uninterrupted power supply.
Speaking on this, Mrs Seqinah Adewunmi, the Chief Finance Officer of Ikeja Electric, who represented the Chief Executive Officer, Mrs Folake Soetan, during the signing of the agreements, stated that the initiative was a landmark in the history of the power sector in the state.
She added that those communities will be the first to experience uninterrupted power supply via a blend of grid and off-grid generation and distribution of power.
According to her, “it will demonstrate the possibility that our customers can enjoy 24 hours power supply which is in line with the core mission of Ikeja Electric to be the provider of choice wherever power is consumed.”
She congratulated everyone that has been part of the process, revealing that the initiative will transform the ways in which electricity is being distributed in Nigeria.
She further stated that this initiative will set the pace for bigger things to happen as the plan is to expand to other communities within the Ikeja Electric Franchise area.
On his part, Mr Oluwaseun Smith, the Managing Director of Enaro Energy, expressed his appreciation that the project was finally coming to fruition, adding that the journey began about two and half years ago and was glad that all the efforts towards ensuring the signing of the contract were worth it.
He stated that Enaro Energy was committed to providing the necessary resources to ensure the success of the project.
Obasanjo Charges Africa to Decide Its Energy Future
By Adedapo Adesanya
Former president of Nigeria, Mr Olusegun Obasanjo, has said Africa must take charge of its own energy destiny and use its rich resource assets for the benefit of its own people.
His comments come in support of the Africa Oil Week (AOW), which is necessitated as the world scrambles to find new sources of oil and gas to meet its energy needs following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In this context, Mr Obasanjo noted that African countries cannot be beholden to the unrealistic ideals of the Global North for an exclusively renewables-driven economy, saying this is particularly true when the developed world is itself accepting the need for hydrocarbons.
“Like the rest of the world, Africa must follow energy policies that promote socio-economic development and sustainable hydrocarbon use,” he said.
The former Head of State, who ruled Africa’s largest crude oil producer from 1999 to 2007 said, “Africa is the lowest producer of greenhouse-gas emissions and needs to lift nearly half-a-billion citizens out of poverty.
“Responsible management of our hydrocarbons and investment in our economies is necessary to ensure a just energy transition and sustainable growth for our people.”
The European Union (EU) had previously said it intends to cut Russian-supplied oil by up to 90 per cent by the end of 2022, and the announcement has already caused global energy costs to soar.
Africa is one of the potential new sources of energy to replace this supply, with an estimated 61 billion barrels of oil equivalent being discovered in the region over the past 10 years.
Mr Obasanjo’s view aligns with that of the African Petroleum Producers Organization (APPO), which also called on member countries and other global institutions to use petroleum as a catalyst for energy security, sustainable development, and economic diversification in Africa through collaboration and partnerships.
Mr Obasanjo has been a major leader of Africa’s post-colonial period, having overseen Nigeria’s transition to representative democracy. Since his move out of the government sphere, he has been a senior statesman, active in defining geopolitical issues – including energy.
He also helped to shape the modern Nigerian oil industry, inaugurating policy reforms that have seen the country become an energy superpower on the African continent.
“Creating an African oil industry that benefits Africa’s people needs strong policy and regulation.
“During my time in government, we launched oil-and-gas policy reforms that helped to build a modern oil and gas hub. There were many learnings that we can apply across the wider region. I look forward to discussing these opportunities for Africa.”
He then called for accelerated dialogue on the sustainable development of hydrocarbons, and the role of Africa as a supplier of global energy needs.
“There has been much talk at forums such as the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos about a just energy transition. However, we must not allow Africa to be dictated to. The discussions at AOW will be pivotal in charting a new energy course for Africa. We will decide what is best for us,” he said.
Akande-Sadipe Mourns as Another Oyo APC Chieftain Dies
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
A member of the House of Representatives, Mrs Tolulope Akande-Sadipe, has expressed sorrow over the death of a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oyo State, Mr Muili Ojuolape.
In a statement on Thursday, the lawmaker from the Oluyole Federal Constituency in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, described the Oyo APC chieftain as a father who would be missed.
Mrs Akande-Sadipe, in the statement signed by her media aide, Mr Olamilekan Olusada, prayed to God to comfort the family of Mr Ojuolape and grant them the fortitude to bear the loss.
She expressed shock over the death of the party chieftain, saying, “The unthinkable happened. We received the news of the second loss in Oluyole APC. We are saddened by the exit of another committed progressive. It’s difficult to bear the pain!”
“Baba Ojuolape, as I fondly called you, Baba Muili Ojuolape, you were indeed a father to me in Oluyole. As you go to your maker, I pray you to rest in perfect peace. I will surely miss you, APC Oluyole will surely miss you, and APC ward one shall surely miss you too. TASK Oluyole shall surely miss you. My sincere condolences to your immediate family. May the Almighty uphold your family to bear this loss,” she added.
Mrs Akande-Sadipe stated further that, “It is natural to grief when death strikes in a well-knitted family, but we have the confidence that the sacrifices you made in your life to build the APC in your local chapter, Oluyole into a viable democratic institution, shall not be in vain.
“You have played your part and left, and your democratic credentials should always spur us to greater service.”
It was gathered that Mr Ojuolape, a prominent member of the APC in the Oluyole local government area of Oyo State, died on Tuesday after a brief illness in Ibadan.
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