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Court Strikes Out N170M FIRS Contract Fraud Against Zinox Boss, Leo Stan Ekeh

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Zinox  
Zinox Group Chairman, 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.

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Emir Sulu-Gambari Appoints Bola Shayaga As Sarauniya of Ilorin

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The Emir of Ilorin and Chairman Kwara State Council of Chiefs, Mai-Martaba Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari CFR, has announced the appointment of Hajia Muinat Bola Shagaya as the Sarauniya of Ilorin Emirate.

He made the announcement at the 57th Annual National Conference of the Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union (IEDPU) held on Sunday.

At the event, the Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq had his speech punctuated by applauses and affirmation on Sunday as he narrated how the capital city Ilorin is wearing new looks following government’s delivery of new roads and execution of many giant projects that the public could easily relate with.

Governor AbdulRazaq commended the traditional ruler and the IEDPU for keeping the flag flying and said a lot needs to be done to make the capital city the number one positive reference point in Nigeria.

“I especially commend the Emir and the leadership of the Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union for keeping the flag flying every year. We thank you for keeping the legacy of Sheikh Alimi evergreen. Distinguished elders, brothers, and sisters, our administration remains committed to inclusive growth. Our goal is to make Ilorin one of the most celebrated capital cities in Nigeria and beyond. This is what informs the focus of our projects,” he said.

“We need to commend the focus of the IEDPU. We used to come annually for the launch of the calendar. But this year has changed, and we are proud of that. The main focus for this year is the ICT centre. I dare say that we must support the IEDPU to make sure that by this time next year, the ICT project is completed.

“I was in Kwara South yesterday to launch a hospital project by Offa Metropolitan Club. Let’s also make Ilorin greater; we should take the lead. By this time next year, IEDPU should be launching another project. It is a challenge for all of us. We are all members of the IEDPU, and we should support them to achieve the set goals.

“By now, we should be pointing to numerous community-sponsored projects in Ilorin. I am glad this has started already. On our part, we are trying to change the face of Ilorin. You can see interlocking pavements taking place all over the town under our urban renewal programme. We are dualising the Yebumot/Oloje road; we are fixing Adeta/Pakata road; and Pakata/Oja-Oba road project; Old and New Yidi road. We will keep doing our best to make sure we transform Ilorin.

“In terms of infrastructure, we are renovating different parts of the state stadium; and we are building a new Squash Court. The Ilorin International Conference Centre will be the best of its kind in northern Nigeria outside Abuja. In terms of industrialisation and employment, we have just awarded a contract for industrial parks in Eiyenkorin. There will be another pack in Malete. And you know, the state is building its own Innovation Hub, which will run along with IEDPU’s Innovation Hub in order to empower our youths to achieve greater heights.

“Let us commend the Chief of Staff to the President Prof Ibrahim Gambari. He hardly has time to come to Ilorin, but he has been doing a yeoman’s job in Abuja. One of the projects, which has not been announced properly, is the protocol we signed, which work will begin soon. It is a brand new diagnostic centre worth $7 million, which will be located in Ilorin here. You have seen that during Maimartaba’s reign, God is doing Ilorin favours. All Ilorin indigenes are progressing dutifully and rightfully.”

The Governor meanwhile donated a sum of N25m as a support for the IEDPU’s ICT hub and promised to ensure quick completion of the project.

Among other donors, Turaki Ilorin and APC Kwara Central Senatorial Candidate Mallam Saliu Mustapha also donated N20m, while Hajia Bola Shagaya donated N10m in support of the IEDPU project.

At the event were the Emir of Ilorin Dr. Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari; Permanent Secretary Ministry of Interior and Chairman of the occasion Dr. Shuaib Belgore; Ilorin Emirate Council of Chiefs; Chief Imam Ilorin Sheikh Mohammed Bashir Soliu; and other Imams and Islamic scholars; Grand Mufti of Ilorin Sheikh Suleiman Faruq Onikijipa; Turakin Ilorin Mallam Saliu Mustapha; National President for IEDPU, Alhaji Aliyu Otta Uthman; Registrar of JAMB, Prof Is-haq Oloyede; Vice Chancellor University of Abuja, Prof Abdulrosheed Na’Allah; businesswoman and Zaraniya Ilorin Hajia Muina Sagaya; former Vice Chancellor of University of Ilorin Prof. Shuaib Oba Abdulraheem; Executive Director for National Centre for Agricultural Mechanisation (NCAM) Engr. A. R Kamal; guest speaker Sheikh Abdulwahab Banni Afonta; and dozens of dignitaries and sons and daughters of Ilorin Emirate.

The Emir of Ilorin, for his part, appealed to the descendants of the Emirate to remain peaceful and united and be committed to the course of growth and progress of the Emirate.

He congratulated the leadership of IEDPU and the entire people of the Emirate for devoting their time and resources for the overall development of the city.

The monarch hailed Governor AbdulRazaq for taking a lead in the projects that continue to change the face of the ancient city.

Belgore, for his part, said Ilorin is fast becoming a choice destination for tourism because of the proliferation of state-of-the-art facilities, which he noted has continued to promote development and bring about economic benefits to the residents and entire citizens.

He commended the leadership qualities of Governor AbdulRazaq and how he uniquely contributed to the growth of the Emirate and turned the city to a tourism and economic hub.

“I would like to say that it is encouraging that Ilorin city is fast becoming a choice destination for tourism, thanks to the proliferation of state-of-the-art facilities in hotels, resorts, other public facilities and chiefly the drive of the state Governor AbdulRaman AbdulRazaq,” he said.

Belgore charged the people of the Emirate to continue to exist in peace and unity and forge ahead in the area of career development.

National President for IEDPU, Alhaji Aliyu Otta Uthman, said the cultural activity was organised to converse, consult and harvest thoughts on issues of local, national and International dimensions for the good of the Ilorin community and the nation at large.

The President, who clarified that the Union is apolitical, called on political parties in the state to make their campaigns issue-based and devoid of violence, asking politicians to always caution their followers against what could threaten the existing peace in the city and the entire state.

Otta praised AbdulRazaq for his government’s investments in road and school infrastructure, and waste management system, including the flyover at Tanke and expansion of Yebumot/Ita-Ama/Oloje road project, asking the government to do more.

“Crime and criminality are reducible if the youth are engaged in any sector of our economy or offered the opportunity to run their own enterprises. We owe our youth the duty of making a living and surviving notwithstanding the condition of our economy by drawing them away from political thuggery, cybercrime, and scam of any sort,” he added.

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“Face Governance, Your days are numbered” – Chief Ogundokun advises Adeleke

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A renowned politician and elder statesman in Nigeria, Chief. Abiola Ogundokun has advised the Governor of Osun State, Sen. Ademola Adeleke to face governance squarely as it is too early to be distracted. 
The Iwo Born politician made this statement during a program he organised in his hometown where he distributed food stuff and financial support to the less privileged.
The veteran journalist questions the Governor, saying it will be strange for the Governor to say he doesn’t know the state is indebted while he was campaigning to be the Governor. He went further to state that all new administration over the world inherits assets and liabilities when they assume power as government is a continuum and therefore advises Governor Adeleke to be focused on providing good governance as time is counting.
Addressing the jubilant crowd, Chief Ogundokun challenged the Governor to publish the details of the acclaimed N18 billion Former Governor Gboyega Oyetola allegedly borrowed after the July 16 Governorship election. He assured everyone that the APC defeat in the last Governorship election that was allegedly rigged was just a temporary setback as Gboyega Oyetola will reclaim back his mandate through the judicial process. On that note, he advised APC supporters to remain steadfast, committed and loyal to the party.
Also in his remarks, Chief Ogundokun urges the elated crowd and party stalwart present to redouble their efforts and ensure that all APC candidates emerge victorious in the 2023 General Election. He urges the youths to shun violence and not allow themselves to be used as instrument of destruction by desperate politicians.
He assures the needy and masses present that the food and financial support program that he has been running on quarterly  basis since 1976 will continue as long as he lives on the surface earth and therefore tell them that they can count on him not to leave them forsaken. 
Present at the program includes the APC Senatorial candidate for Osun West; Dr. Hamidu Tadese, Alh. Omobola Yusuff, Alh. Fatai Abubakr among others.
In his own address, the APC Senatorial hopeful, Dr. Hamidu Tadese thanked the masses for their loyalty and support, imploring them to remain steadfast and ensure a total victory for APC candidates from Top to Bottom in the 2023 General Elections.

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SDP Fastest Growing Party, Adewole Adebayo, Lawyer Turned Politician Set to Fix Nigeria – Adebayo Obajemu

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SDP Emerges Fastest Growing Party, Adewole Adebayo Lawyer Turned Politician Set to Fix Nigeria
By Adebayo Obajemu
Prince Adewole Adebayo, the presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, is an unusual candidate in many respects. One, he is about one of the youngest of the lot jostling to succeed Muhammadu Buhari. Second, he is a quiet achiever that prefers to silently walk his talk instead of hugging media limelight, he is stealthily building strictures and structures of his party across the 36 states.In that wise, SDP is the fastest growing party in the country.
“The party has a rich history and pedigree dating back to Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, who on the crest of the legendary party crisscrossed into victory in the famous June 12 presidential election later annulled by the military junta led by Ibrahim Babangida”, professor Adeagbo Moritiwon a political scientist told this newspaper 
 Recall that following  the death of Chief MKO Abiola, the winner of the 1993 presidential election, the party literally went into oblivion until the emergence of Prince Adewole Adebayo as its presidential flagbearer. Adebayo exhumed the party from political death, and breathed life into it, forming formidable front to counter the so-called behemoths- APC and PDP.Dr Olufemi, director of Entrepreneurship at Redeemers University who is a public affairs analyst says of Adebayo. ” The young man who is a lawyer has proved successfully that he can run  Nigeria. He has quietly been able to build the party structures all over the country. I’m seeing him as a surprising third force that will upset the apple carts if the big parties are not careful.

Adebayo has consistently said he’s set to fix the country, according to him his spanner is truth.
Recently, he  spoke at an event organised by the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA), held at the Nigerian Army Resource Center, Abuja on Tuesday said to fix something, one must avoid damaging it further.
He stated : “You have to understand what went wrong. Our country is not a difficult country to live in. What the country has gone through is deliberate sabotage by some people. Only Nigerians can fix Nigeria and they are the same people that damage it.
“The first thing we must do is to fix ourselves. We are going into the election not because we’ve learned lessons but because time has come.
“If we do not fix ourselves, we will get worse results than in 2019. People are saying Buhari is a disaster. They want us to know that Jonathan was a saint. I don’t agree. The same with Obasanjo.

“What I will say to Nigerians, is what I will say to my mechanic. Do you understand what is wrong with this car? If we don’t understand what is wrong with Nigeria, we can’t fix it,” Adebayo said.
According to him, some people want to fix the country but they do not want certain things to be fixed.
“Every youth in Nigeria seems to be angry with Nigeria. Youths seem to be innocent. But whether we like it or not, everyone is guilty.
“For me, I want to fix the country. My spanner is the truth. I don’t stick to things that favour me. We have insecurity. The government of the day can fix it if it stops the business in it.
“There is serious injustice either in the service. The government is creating new poverty. In the past, poverty was limited to people that are disabled and illiterate. The government has made it impossible for professionals to have value for their work because the currency has been devalued.
“We can fix the problem today if we want to fix it. We are not attracting talent in government. People are in government because of money. Nigeria doesn’t need more than seven ideas to work. The young people have no excuse anymore because the political space is now open unlike when we were being beaten by the military,” he added.He has been involved at different levels in charity and philanthropy. He generously donated to floods victims, the most recent one was in Bayelsa Where he doled out 10 million.
 Adebayo began his legal career as a litigation lawyer at Tunji Abayomi and Co in Lagos, Nigeria. After two years of legal practice, he founded his own law firm, Adewole Adebayo & Co., House of Law, in 2002.
One of the cases handled by his law firm in Nigeria was the case between Femi Falana and the Federal Government, in which Femi Falana (SAN) contested the constitutionality of the contract between the Ministry of Interior, the Nigeria Immigration Service, and Continental Transfert Technique Limited for the collection of Combined Expatriate and Residence Permit Aliens Card (CERPAC) fees. Adebayo represented Continental Transfert Technique Limited in the case.
In 2016, Adewole Adebayo established KAFTAN TV.

Adebayo is noted for his large heart. He  sponsors nearly 2,000 young Nigerians in Nigerian and foreign tertiary institutions, in addition to numerous people he has financially empowered across the country.
Earlier, he has made his name as  a public affairs commentator who provides advice on national issues on occasion. and participates in Nigerian politics as a member of the Third Force.
On January 8, 2022, Adewole Adebayo celebrated his 50th birthday and declared his intention to run for the office of the Nigerian president.
He is running for president of Nigeria in the 2023 Nigerian general election under the Social Democratic Party (Nigeria).

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