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Obasanjo-Bello is lawless –EFCC

Posted by By GODWIN TSA Abuja on 2008/05/02 | Views: 579 |

Obasanjo-Bello is lawless –EFCC


The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has described the embattled chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Dr Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, as “an opportunist lawmaker” who has no regard for the law of the land and the constitution.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has described the embattled chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Dr Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, as “an opportunist lawmaker” who has no regard for the law of the land and the constitution.

Obasanjo-Bello on Monday again failed to appear before an Abuja High Court handling the trial of those involved in the N300 million unspent budget scam in the Federal Ministry of Health.
The EFCC Prosecutor, Mr James Binang, expressed disappointment at her attitude.

He said: “If Obasanjo-Bello is law-abiding, she ought to have been here and stop playing a hide-and-seek game. It is over three weeks since this trial commenced; she has refused to show up and she is using the apparatus of the government to evade arrest. We are making all efforts to arrest her. Our men are in the field to effect her arrest and bring her to court.”

Also speaking, Mr Bature Gafai, a director in EFCC’s legal department, said that the commission was disappointed that the senator was not in court on Monday. “It is sad that the so-called distinguished senator has been making every effort to evade prosecution. We want to know if we are actually operating under the rule of law. Why should anyone claim to be above the law?” he asked, even as he corroborated Binang’s statement that the EFCC was making efforts to apprehend Obasanjo-Bello.
The EFCC also told the court that the senator lied about the N10 million she collected from the Ministry of Health as well as her encounter with the anti-graft body.

While opposing the objections raised by the senator against the charges preferred against her, the EFCC insisted that Senator Iyabo knew that the money was stolen, adding that she had complete dominion over the expenditure of the money to the exclusion of other members of her committee.


Binang told the court, “The former Minister of Health, Professor Adenike Grange, in December, 2007, put up a call to the applicant, notifying her that the money, N10 million, meant for the Ghana trip was ready. The applicant sent the Secretary, Senate Committee on Health, one Mr. Aguluru, who picked the money in cash and later handed it over to Mr. Edobor, who replaced him.”

He said in the course of investigations carried out by the EFCC in February and early March, 2008, Senator Obasanjo-Bello was promptly notified by its agents investigating the fraud that the source of the money in her possession was fraudulent and was being investigated.

According to him, same agents clarified to the same committees of the House of Representatives and Senate to return the money to the Ministry of Health. He explained that while the House returned its, the Senate Committee on Health, presided over by the applicant, refused, hence her inclusion on the charge sheet.

The EFCC added that the idea of expending the money in late March 2008 on a trip to Ghana was an afterthought and a cover up, stressing that Obasanjo-Bello would need to face the court to defend the allegation.

In addition, the prosecution counsel said that there was no way the Senator could manipulate the law to escape justice, as Section 4 of the EFCC Act empowers the commission to arrest anybody who runs foul of the law.

Binang stated that Obasanjo-Bello has the financial and political clout to evade arrest, which explains why the hand of law has not caught up with her. He said: “If she is a law abiding citizen, she should come to court.
“Our men are still everywhere looking for her and as soon as they lay hands on her, she will be brought to court. We have enough evidence to nail her.”

Senator Obasanjo-Bello, in a preliminary objection, asked the court to strike out counts 55 and 56 of the charge in which she was alleged to have collected the money for which she is being tried along with Grange, the former Minister of Health, and 10 others.

Her lawyer, Bankole Akomolafe, who filed the objection last week, said that it was wrong for the EFCC to harass his client on the account of the charge, saying that until the court pronounces on the application, arresting the senator would be against the spirit of law.

Binang, in a counter affidavit, described as misleading the claim by Obasanjo-Bello that she visited the commission after her statement had been obtained, stressing that she turned down several invitations just to escape being arraigned in court.

EFCC asserted that no accused person has a legal right against prosecution and maintained that Obasanjo-Bello has been at large even when she admitted that she has seen and read the charges preferred against her.

At Monday’s sitting, counsel to Obasanjo-Bello, Adebayo Adenipekun, SAN, said that there were four applications before the court and urged the court to take the applicant’s objection.

Binang, however, said that it was better to consolidate all motions and that the court should order written addresses to be filed and exchanged between both parties.
Justice Adamu Bello consequently ordered as prayed and adjourned till May 12, 2008 for the argument and adoption of the written addresses.

Further investigations by the EFCC into the 2007 unspent N300 million Federal Ministry of Health contract scam have revealed how the suspended Director of Administration and Supplies, Dr. H.B Oyedepo, used a cashier in the Ministry, Mr. J.B Faniyi, as a conduit for cashing all the cheques raised in favour of contracts approved by the former minister of health.

The suspended Permanent Secretary, Prof Samuel Ogamdi, had, in a statement to the EFCC, identified Dr. H. B Oyedepo as the initiator of the non-existing contracts on which the sum of N300 million was purportedly expended.

In his confessional statement, freely deposed to the EFCC, Mr. Faniyi identified some members of the welfare committee set up by then director of administration and supplies, in whose names the cheques were raised and endorsed to him for collecton and eventual release to the same director. For doing the dirty jobs, Mr. Faniyi was paid a paltry sum of N24, 000.

He stated as follows: “On the issue of cheques that were cashed by me, the payees endorsed them to me and gave me the photocopy of their identity cards. These cheques were cashed from the overhead account of the ministry at Oceanic Bank Plc, Account no. 066-1301005284. In respect of cheque No. 08497504, dated 27th December 2007, in favour of Mr. Ogbonnaya I.K, which was cashed by me, I handed it over to the director of administration in the ministry. In respect of cheque No. 1625, dated 27/12/2007, in favour of Bogdan Ventures, but later changed to Mr. J.A. Olomo, it was cashed by me and handed over to the director of administration after it was endorsed to me.

“In respect of cheque No.00001754, in favour of Mrs. Ndubuisi, B.I, this cheque was cashed by me when it has been endorsed to me and I handed it over to Mr. Ibrahim, A.M, who in turn, handed it over to the director of administration. In respect of No. 10448423 in favour of Mr. Fona A. Inyang, which was endorsed to me and handed over to the director of administration. Cheque No. 8497498 was on 03|1|08 endorsed to me and I handed over the cash to the director of administration.

“I, on the 3rd January 2008, cashed cheque No.8497524 in favour of Henry Onyeagwalam, which I also handed over to the director of administration. Cheque No. 00001672 in favour of Ekanem Donald was endorsed to me and on instruction, I forwarded the cash to then director of administration. In respect of cheque No. 00001702, it was endorsed to me and I handed over the cash to the director of administration. Cheque No. 00001699 was endorsed to me by Henry Onyeagwalam and I, after the cashing, handed over the money to the director of administration.

Cheque No. 00001747 was endorsed to me for cashing by Mr. O. Oke and the cash was handed over to him on my way from the bank
“Cheque No. 1675 was on 31|12|2007, endorsed to me and I gave the cash to the director of administration. Cheque No. 084997508 in favor of Mr. K.O Busari was endorsed to me and the cash forwarded to the director of administration. The amount given to me out of the money was about twenty-four thousand (N24, 000) only.”

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Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding

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Ikponmwosa Osamede(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Your meaning of Osamede is wrong. Osamede means God has given me a crown