Court Strikes Out N170M FIRS Contract Fraud Against Zinox Boss, Leo Stan Ekeh
The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) presided over by Honourable Justice C. O. Oba sitting in Court 32 has struck out Charge No. FCT/HC/CR/469/2022 filed by Falana & Falana against the Chairman, Zinox Technologies, Leo Stan Ekeh and officials of Technology Distributions Limited, including Mrs. Chioma Ekeh, Chris Eze Ozims, Shade Oyebode, Charles Adigwe and others over an alleged fraud involving a N170m contract with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
This follows a letter dated October 28, 2022 from the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, through the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions of the Federation (DPP) to Falana & Falana withdrawing the fiat earlier granted them in May 2022 and also directing them to immediately withdraw the said Charge constituted as FCT/HC/CR/469/2022 leveled against Mr. Ekeh and the others, based on the findings that the fiat was obtained on misrepresentation and concealment of material facts by their client, Mr. Benjamin Joseph of Citadel Oracle Concepts Limited.
At the court proceedings on Tuesday, November 8, 2022, Mr. Marshall Abubakar, counsel from the firm of Falana & Falana, who appeared for the prosecution, tried to argue against the instruction and sought adjournment on some flimsy grounds, despite the clear instruction of the AGF contained in the letter to his firm.
However, Mr. Matthew Bukaa (SAN) who appeared for Mr. Ekeh, and the aforementioned staff of Technology Distributions Limited, opposed the application for adjournment and prayed the court to give effect to the unambiguous directive of the AGF to withdraw the charges.
The trial judge, Honourable Justice C. O Oba, after reviewing the certified true copy of the Attorney General’s letter, agreed with the defence counsel, Mr. Bukaa SAN, that there is no legitimate grounds to sustain the charges or grant adjournment and accordingly struck out the charges.
It would be recalled that some recent media publications had published stories indicating that the Federal Government of Nigeria was to prosecute Mr. Ekeh and 12 others over an alleged N170million FIRS contract which Mr. Benjamin Joseph claims was fraudulently executed using the name of his company, Citadel Oracle Concept Limited, without his knowledge and that the Federal Government was accordingly defrauded.
It was also reported that the firm of Falana & Falana, acting for Mr. Benjamin Joseph, applied for and was granted a fiat in May 2022 from the AGF to bring a charge against Mr. Ekeh and 12 others, upon which Mr. Femi Falana filed the purported charge on September 9, 2022.
However, the Attorney General, by a letter dated October 28, 2022, to Falana & Falana withdrew the fiat earlier granted them and directed them to immediately withdraw the charge they filed in court.
The directive came a couple of weeks after the AGF discovered that material information was withheld in the application by Falana & Falana for the fiat allegedly meant to prosecute Ekeh and others. Crucially, Mr. Falana SAN, who had only recently started representing Benjamin Joseph, failed to disclose to the AGF that the FCT High Court presided by Honourable Justice Damlami Senchi had in February 2021 delivered a judgment in Charge No. FCT/HC/CR/244/2018, dismissing as false and malicious the various allegations put forward by Mr. Benjamin Joseph and awarded the sum of N20m against him as damages for false petitioning and to serve as a deterrence to others against false information.
The respected SAN also failed to disclose that his client has refused to be cross-examined since 2018 in an ongoing criminal case (Charge No. CR/216/2016) instituted against him by the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Office of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) based on false information on the same allegations.
Also, it was not disclosed to the AGF that the Nigerian Police Force Headquarters had, by a comprehensive final report dated December 1, 2020, after a thorough review of the facts and investigations of the case, absolved Mr. Ekeh and all the aforementioned persons of any criminal liability in the entire transaction leading to this case, but rather recommended the continuation of the trial of Mr. Benjamin Joseph which began since 2016. Furthermore, the AGF had, by a letter dated June 6, 2022, also directed the Inspector General of Police to prosecute Benjamin Joseph to a logical conclusion.
The said criminal proceedings is still ongoing against Mr. Benjamin Joseph before Honourable Justice Peter Kekemeke of the FCT High Court and comes up on January 24, 2023, for continuation of trial.
There was, therefore, no basis to grant or sustain the fiat to file charges against Mr. Ekeh and the staff of Technology Distributions on the same set of facts and allegations for which Mr. Benjamin Joseph, the petitioner, is currently standing trial for false information. Consequently, the fiat was withdrawn and the Charge struck out on Tuesday, November 8, 2022 by Honourable Justice C. O. Oba sitting in Court 32 of the FCT High Court.
Reacting to the development, a human rights activist, Dr. Niyi Abo, who was present in court on a sidelines as an observer, hailed the judgment, even as he expressed his disappointment at the step taken by Falana & Falana in filing the case against Mr. Ekeh and others without due diligence.
‘‘I think what they want to achieve is to see Mr. Ekeh in the dock just to diminish his stature because from findings, the only sin the man committed is that he founded TD Africa and his company extended an interest-free credit to help a young man to survive, just like he has done for thousands of others partners of TD Africa, some of whom are in court here in sympathy with Mr. Ekeh.
‘‘This further gives vent to the claims that this might be a case of blackmail gone wrong, according to what Benjamin Joseph’s ex-business partner, Princess Kama confirmed in the media herself, that Benjamin Joseph’s grouse is that she did not support him to divert TD Africa’s funds after the FIRS paid them, as well as his alleged attempt to extort money from Mr. Ekeh when he learnt that Mr. Ekeh is a very rich man. I understand Mr. Ekeh and his wife have never met the alleged blackmailer. Does it mean if you transact a business with a company and something goes wrong according to your own estimation, you start calling the Chairman of the company, a distinguished Nigerian and global citizen, a criminal?
‘‘I sincerely think it is very demeaning for a reputable law firm like Falana and Falana to get involved in this. Nigerian lawyers must please upgrade and exhaust simple due diligence on their clients before accepting their briefs. I think that blackmail, due to hard times, is one of the biggest businesses in Africa now. Several compromised media houses are being used by these blackmailers to extort rich men. You can imagine the negative publicity orchestrated by some online media houses against Mr. Ekeh in the past few days on account of this useless case.
‘‘I congratulate Mr. Ekeh for having the guts to follow this fight to the end, and if I were him, I would probably consider a petition to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee against Falana & Falana. He should also take Mr. Benjamin Joseph to the cleaners by taking out court actions against him and his compromised media supporters,’’ Dr. Abo concluded.
Otunba Gbenga Daniel Mourns The Exit of Chief Subomi Balogun
Former Ogun State governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel has sent his condolences to the family of late Otunba Subomi Balogun over the death of their Patriarch who died yesterday in London.
According to a statement sent to the media, the Senator-Elect described late Balogun as someone who lived a graceful life with colour and candour.
The statement reads ” I received with shock the passing unto eternal glory of the Olori Omoba, Otunba Tunwase of Ijebuland.
As the Asiwaju of Ijebu Christians, Otunba Subomi Balogun brought the fear of God into everything that he did and believed in, and united the Body of Christ while promoting interfaith relationships in the entire Ijebuland to the best of his ability.
A frontline businessman and astute banker, Otunba Balogun lived a life worthy of emulation by carrying the weight of royalty into his enterprise. He lived a graceful life with colour and candour.
I share a lot in common with Otunba Subomi Balogun who served as a father figure to me and supported our administration without let when I had the privilege to serve as the Governor of Ogun State.
He was a man whom I have the greatest respect for both in royalty and in the business world. Yeye and I will miss this great icon of Ijebu culture and business enterprise, and we are consoled that God granted him a bountiful life to a ripe old age.
My sincere condolences go to the Governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun, MFR; The Awujale and Paramount Ruler of Ijebuland, His Royal Majesty, Oba Sikiru Adetona, CFR Ogbagba; the entire Balogun Dynasty and Jadiara/Funsegbuwa Royal ruling House, Olorituns and the entire Ijebu people home and abroad for this great loss.
We pray that the good Lord would grant his repose eternal rest and for the family that he left behind to be able to mourn his passage with great strength” He stated.
Oando Boss Wale Tinubu Greets Dangote @66
‘Celebrate true friends. They are a part of you that always sparkle’ – Amy Leigh Mercree.
The English-born actress may have had the boss of Oando Group, Jubril Adewale Tinubu in mind when she made this quote.
Truly, the trained lawyer never forgets to celebrate and appreciate his good friends whenever it is necessary. In fact, he is one gentleman who values and understands the definition of true friendship.
This played out on Monday, April 10, 2023, when he showered praises on his friend of many years, Africa’s richest man and Chairman of Aliko Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, when he clocked 66.
In celebration of Dangote, the oil and gas top player wrote: “Happy Birthday to an extraordinary business leader of global recognition. Your phenomenal impact on the African economy and society is truly remarkable.
“Your drive, dedication, and leadership have paved the way for an army of aspiring African entrepreneurs. We are proud to have you as one our own, and I wish you many more happy, healthy and prosperous years ahead!”
Dangote, a name that means so many things to many people. But what no one can deny is the fact that the name is essentially synonymous with success.
The Kano State-born mogul has successfully engraved his name in the hearts of the generality of his compatriots with his business acumen.
Like every creature, this amiable billionaire has his own humble beginning. But his is one that will inspire any ambitious soul, any day and any time.
As a young man, he had a clear vision of what he wanted to do in life and he pursued it with unwavering doggedness. While growing up, the only thing that caught his fancy was business and he refused to be swayed by any other interest.
Sola Fajobi: I refuse to be used and cowered, I’m voting Sanwo-Olu
It is a general saying that “Until you realize how easy it is for your mind to be manipulated, you remain the puppet of someone else’s game”, and nothing can be truer than that quote in the light of Nigeria’s situation at the moment.
The 2023 general election was meant to usher in a new era of renewed hope in a nation that is reputed to be the giant of Africa, but has successfully awaken an evil gnome of manipulation and bigotry in our youths like never before despite our alleged collective exposure.
On March 11, Lagosians will be polling to either re-elect the sitting governor or replace him with another aspirant from one of the other political parties gunning for the Alausa seat at the centre of excellence.
Lagos is a state with the highest number of voters in the South Western Nigeria. It boasts of vibrant and comparatively more educated electorates, representing a wide array of the nation’s ethnic groups. Statistics from the recently concluded presidential election shows that approximately 1/4 of the total number of registered voters were accredited to vote on February 25, 2023.
There was an upset in the usual results trend, where the ruling party, the All Progressive Congress, APC, was overtaken with a slight majority votes by the Labour Party that polled a total of 582,454 votes against APC’s 572,606. The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the historic second -fiddle horse in Lagos elections was edged to a record low of 75,750 votes.
I may not be interested in the analysis of what went down in the election as there is an urgent task at hand; the requisite re-election of the incumbent governor of Lagos State, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu.
For those whose sense of judgement have not been coloured by mischief makers, it is an easy affirmation that Lagos State is working by every standard. Looking around you, there is always a testament to that fact. A litmus test of the fact that Lagos State is working is the reality of a working integrated public services system: Lagos remains the ONLY state in Nigeria (roll in the FG) with a working toll-free emergency line, with chronicles of how it has saved the day in incidences of fire, security, disaster and many more across the state.
Babajide Sanwo-Olu is a new convex curve in Lagos’ trajectory to regional dominance and global relevance. From the very first day, BOS has shown what he is made of as a member of a set of first-class governors that Lagos has been blessed with since 1999. He swiftly moved in to salvage the lot of Lagosians with respect to the perilous time his administration advent into. From leading the entire nation to successfully manage the COVID-19 pandemic, to rolling out his brilliant T.H.E.E.M.E.S. agenda, Sanwoolu came ready for the job from day one!
Aside from working out the long-standing vision of previous administrations, anchored on the objective of making Lagos a mega city of the 21st century-kind, five months ago, Sanwo-olu’s government launched a 30 year development plan for Nigeria’s commercial capital, which is to be implemented between 2022 and 2052. It is imperative to note that the plan is necessary to achieve the goals of becoming Africa’s model mega city, while also positioning Lagos as a global, economic and financial hub that is safe, secure, functional and productive.
Sanwo-Olu’s personality is cut from character traits uncommon with most Nigerian politicians, and ever since his assumption of office as the governor, he has rolled up his sleeves and got down into the trenches by ensuring that the state continues to move forward positively.
I’m a serial entrepreneur, and having traveled across the nation and outside its shores, I can declare without equivocation that Lagos State, under the APC, provides the best business environment for my business concerns to flourish. You can then understand my situation when I, Adesola Fajobi, say that I refuse to be used to derail such brighter prospects for my business and that of many other hardworking Lagosians like me.
Returning Sanwo-Olu as governor should be the most important task of every single Lagosian in this coking election. I refuse to be brainwashed to go against all the years of great works put into developing Lagos to make it the 5th largest economy in Africa.
The Ehingbeti Lagos Economic Summit has provided a platform for the articulation of Lagos economic and developmental agenda and progress, which Sanwo-Olu continually showcases with incontrovertible developmental strides.
He has commenced the construction of a new airport on the Lekki axis of the state after his government obtained approval from the federal government for the construction of the new airport in Lagos, and also completed the Lagos Blue Line rail project designed to move millions of Lagosians across the state.
Other laudable projects include the completion of the Pen Cinema flyover in Agege, the Opebi-Ojota link bridge, which is nearing completion, the largest rice mill in Africa, the Lekki Deep Sea port, upgrading of four higher institutions to universities and so many more.
Why change a winning and working formula? Why allow a newbie to turn a functioning society into a leadership testing ground?
Sanwo-Olu is sellable, tested and trusted. Why would I allow myself to be used as an agent of destruction to give greedy politicians tickets to return Lagos to ground zero? Mr. Governor always provides robust responses, demonstrating a deep understanding of the economy, governance, the people’s expectations and desires. This is something I wouldn’t want to stop benefiting from.
If his administration would be evaluated only by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no gainsaying that Sanwo-Olu performed excellently. Instead of throwing up his hands in defeat, Mr. Governor became the incident commander, and immediately went to work as he locked down the state, activated all the state apparatus – media, security, public health, emergency management, etc., thereby saving millions of Nigerians lives. He duly earned the country the fourth position in the list of the countries in the world that handled the pandemic well. This is a verifiable fact.
With his years of experience in the private sector, he quickly worked with major players to set up isolation centres, infectious diseases centres, amongst other steps. It goes without saying that if Sanwo-Olu had failed as a leader during this dark period in our life, we may not be here now talking about 2023 election at all. Today under Sanwo-Olu, the Lagos Health Insurance Scheme costs only N40,000 a year for a family to enjoy from primary to tertiary health care.
I refuse to be cowered by a mob that sees nothing good in Lagos, and are hell bent on fostering other candidates with no track records of performance. Governance is not a matter for experimentation
I’m a father, a businessman, an entrepreneur, a brother and so much more like you; living in Lagos and flourishing under the present APC-led government. Come March 11, 2023, I have chosen to cast my vote for Babajide Sanwo-Olu to continue leading and serving Lagos with great achievements.
You should do the same too. Follow person wey know road
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