Why FG Is Yet To Arraign Supreme Court Justice, Okoro, others— AGF

The Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, has said that the Federal Government has not dropped the corruption charge it prepared against Supreme Court Justice, John Inyang Okoro and others, but was rather working to consolidate the charges against them.

According to Malami, the charges against Okoro and others yet to be arraigned in court were being strengthened based on new evidence, which needed to be consolidated in order to have a water-tight case against the suspects.

It will be recalled that no fewer than seven judges of the Supreme, federal and state high courts were taken into custody on the night of October 7, 2016 and later granted bail by security agents over allegations of corruption.

Some of them were later separately charged to different courts.

The minister hinted that the Federal Government was busy assembling its witnesses against the accused persons to ensure the speedy conclusion of the matter once charged to the court.

Malami said: “So far, we have not dropped any corruption case against any of the suspects. What has happened however, is that having stumbled on new evidence, we are consolidating the charges so as to present a water-tight case against the suspects and prove to the world that these people are not being witch hunted as being alleged by some persons.

“We are taking that step mindful of the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, which require that all our witnesses must be ready before the commencement of trial. We don’t want to give room for any delay once the cases commences.

“In fact, we want to ensure that our witnesses are ready so that once the judge has fixed a date we can proceed to prove our cases against the suspects,” the minister said.

Buhari Hails Okoro’s World Bank Appointment

President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated Ms Sandie Okoro, for her recent appointment as Senior Vice President and General Counsel, World Bank Group.

The President also extended the same felicitations to Ms Nnemkadi Ogwunike on her record breaking achievements in the U.S. Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) League. The two congratulatory messages were signed by the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa on Monday in Abuja.

The President described Okoro’s track record in the banking sector as impressive, which has brought a rekindled hope that “Nigerians in the Diaspora with the right atmosphere, are professionally excellent”. Buhari said that “having followed her excellent track records in making Nigeria proud as a nation, there is no doubt in my mind that the sky is your beginning’’.

The president also said Nigeria received the victory of Nnemkadi Ogwunike as the 2016 Most Valuable Player of U.S. WNBA League with utmost pride and deep sense of appreciation to the country. “We were even more excited to learn that you have led your team to clinch the 2016 League Championships, a feat that has been achieved by your team, the Los Angeles Sparks, since 2003.

“It is even more befitting and admirable that, as a true African and Nigerian daughter, you have set a remarkable example for your younger Sister, Chiney Ogwunike. “She (Chiney) joined you to make world history in 2014, when selected by the Connecticut Sun as the Number One draft pick achieved by your team, the Los Angeles Sparks, since 2003’’.

“The legacy you began in 2012, with your selection by the Los Angeles Sparks, making both of you, the second set of siblings to ever be selected number one in any American Sports. “I am truly proud of both of you, and urge you to continue to extol the virtues and strengthen of Nigerian heritage. Your shinning example serves as inspiration to the youths of Nigeria,” the president added. (NAN)

Corruption: FG okays trial of Justices Okoro, Ademola, others.

The Federal Government on Wednesday shunned the National Judiciary Council and pressed ahead with its decision to bring the seven suspected corrupt judges to justice.

The seven are among the 15 already identified by the Department of State Services and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, but the other eight are yet to be named and invited for questioning.

The NJC, which claimed to have omnibus powers over both criminal and administrative matters relating to judges in Nigeria, last week disregarded the Presidency’s directive to suspend the suspected corrupt judicial officers from duty, pending the trial and disposal of the criminal allegations levelled against them.

Rather than comply with the Presidency’s order, the NJC slammed the DSS for daring to search the homes of the judges in the night and making away with huge cash in local and foreign currencies.

Although none of the suspects denied keeping the huge cash in their homes, the NJC was silent on the propriety of the discovery of the money in the homes of the judges, but disparaged the DSS for the raid, which it claimed was intended to cow the judges from doing their jobs.

In a brazen move to get at both the NJC and the suspects, who have tried to blame key ministers in President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration for their ordeal, the Federal Government on Wednesday formally approved the prosecution of the suspects with immediate effect.

A top Presidency official confirmed to Vanguard that the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, had approved the immediate prosecution of the suspects so as not to give the erroneous impression that government was promoting corruption.

The top source said the trial of the suspects would be carried out in phases and handled by the National Prosecution Council, which was recently inaugurated.

The source said the refusal of the NJC to suspend the suspected judges was interpreted as a “slap” on the Presidency and that no country would allow a few people to constitute themselves into a cabal that is “above the law”.

Asked to disclose the nature of the charges to be preferred against the judges, the official said: “The charges are generally for corruption, with an isolated case of illegal possession of firearms to be pressed against one of the judges.”

The firearms were recovered from the home of one of the suspects by the DSS during the nocturnal raid on October 7, a development that had sparked national outrage.

Giving further insight into the trial, the source hinted: “I can tell you that the National Prosecution Council will lead the prosecution of the suspects, while the Director of Public Prosecution in the Federal Ministry of Justice will coordinate the team.

“The charges were cleared from the OHAGF only yesterday and the suspects are certainly going to be charged to court any moment from now.

“The Federal Government is not deterred by the refusal of the NJC to suspend the suspects from office.”

Efforts to speak with Malami, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, proved abortive, as he was said to be outside Nigeria.

None of his officials claimed knowledge of the approval of the charges against the suspected judges.

It will be recalled that the DSS had launched a sting operation in the homes of the judges on the night of October 7, 2016, recovering local and foreign currencies worth N360 million.

Two of the judges are from the Supreme Court, while the rest sit in Federal and State High Courts.

While Justice John Inyang Okoro of the Supreme Court claimed on Tuesday that the $38,000 found in his home was his estacode, he did not say how the over N3 million cash was left in his home and not the bank.

On the other hand, Justices Ademola Adeniyi and Nnamdi Dimgba have blamed their ordeal in the hands of the DSS on Malami over certain court verdicts they claimed they gave against him in the past.

Nonetheless, the allegations against Malami were not mentioned to anyone until the raids on their homes by the DSS.