Tag Archives: Okon Abang

Briton involved in P&ID contract arraigned, granted bail, to surrender all int’l passports

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has granted a N500 million bail to a British national, James Nolan, who was found culpable in the controversial contract award to Process and Industrial Development Limited (P&ID).

Mr Nolan and another British national, Adam Quinn, who is still at large were arraigned on a 16 count charge bordering on money laundering.

The defendants were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on the 21st of October when Mr Nolan pleaded not guilty.

Justice Okon Abang, who delivered ruling on the bail application, also granted Mr Nolan surety for him in the same bail sum, who must be a serving Senator to stand.

The Judge said the serving Senator must not have a criminal case that is pending in any court in the country, and must have landed property that is fully developed in the Maitama district of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The court ordered Mr Nolan to surrender all his international passports.

Court adjourns Maina’s trial to ascertain ‘true state of health’

Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High court has adjourned the trial Abdulrasheed Maina to November 21 and 22, 2019.

This according to the Judge is to enable the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS) to ascertain the true state of Mr Maina who was wheeled into the courtroom today.

Justice Abang had earlier announced that the reserved ruling on the bail application filed on behalf of Abdulrasheed Maina is not ready.

He said the heavy work load on the court has made it impossible to deliver the ruling today, adding that a new date for the ruling will be communicated to all the parties before the close of work today

Arguments were later taken from both prosecution and defence counsel whether or not to proceed with the trial considering the ill health of the defendant.

Following a medical report presented by Maina, the Prosecutor asked the court for an adjournment to the 21st and 22nd of November to enable the Nigerian Correctional Service ascertain the true state of Mister Maina’s health and his fitness to stand trial.

The Prosecutor however says if the court is not prepared to grant the application for adjournment, he is ready to continue with the trial since his first witness is already in court.

Justice Abang therefore adjourned the trial to 21st and 22nd of November.

Bayelsa: Your candidates unqualified to vie for governorship poll – court tells YDP

A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Thursday, declared that the Young Democratic Party (YDP)’s candidates were unqualified to vie for the Nov. 16, governorship election in Bayelsa.

Justice Okon Abang, in his judgment, agreed with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that Mr Omeih Ikoli Ayebanoa, who was nominated as the running mate to the party’s governorship candidate, Mr Sunny Agadabin, did not meet the statutory age requirement for the said office.

Justice Abang said that Ayebanoa, who declared in his INEC Form CF 001 that he was 34 years old, did not meet the statutory age requirement of 35 years as prescribed by sections 177 (b) and 187 (2) of the constitution to run for the office of the deputy governor.

The court further held that the purported substitution of candidates made by the party was invalid as it was done outside the Sept. 9, dateline provided by the electoral body.

The party had, in a suit, dragged INEC before the court, challenging the rejection of its candidates for the Nov. 16, governorship election in the state.

It prayed the court to, among others, declare that INEC is not entitled and empowered under the law to reject or disqualify any candidate nominated by a political party for election.

The party further urged the court to grant an order mandating INEC to recognise its candidates and accord them all the rights and privileges accrued to candidates for the forthcoming election in the state.

It asked the court to declare anything done by INEC to infringe on its right to nominate and sponsor candidates for the office of governor and deputy governor in the Nov. 6, governorship election in Bayelsa unconstitutional, null and void.

It equally prayed for a restraining order against the INEC from further rejecting, disqualifying its candidates for the poll as well as an order setting aside anything done by INEC as it affects the right of its candidates.

But in a counter affidavit filed by its counsel, Alhassan Umar, SAN, INEC Counsel argued that the electoral body did not disqualify the candidates of the plaintiff.

However, it rather drew the party’s attention to the fact that its running mate, Ayebanoa, did not meet up with the statutory age requirement of 35 years to run for the office of the deputy governor.

The Commission urged the court to determine a sole issue as to whether having regards to the provisions of Sections 177 and 187 of the 1999 Constitution, the person fielded by the plaintiff satisfied the constitutional requirement to be eligible to contest for the office of the deputy governor.

INEC stated that going by the personal particulars contained in Form CF001, submitted to the commission, Ayebanoa, who declared that he was 34 years was not qualify to contest for the office of deputy governor.

Especially going by the provisions of sections 177(b) and 187(2) of the 1999 Constitution, which prescribed an age requirement of 35 years.

The electoral body stated that the nomination of the plaintiff was invalid on account of Ayebanoa not satisfying the statutory age requirement of 35 years.

Besides, the commission argued that the purported substitution by the plaintiff on Sept. 23, was done well after the stipulated period which elapsed on Sept. 9, as contained in its time table for the Nov. 6, governorship election in the state and therefore not valid in law.

In his judgment, Justice Abang, said he had carefully studied the processes and arguments canvassed by both counsel.

“The only question to be considered is whether INEC had in any way disqualify the candidates in contesting the governorship election to enable the plaintiff rely on it?

“The answer is that INEC did not disqualify the plaintiff’s candidates. It merely informed the plaintiff that it submitted an invalid candidate based on Section 177 and 187 (2).

“It merely informed the plaintiff that the age of the running mate to the governorship candidate is below the statutory requirement.

“The case has nothing to do with Section 31 of the Electoral Act, 2010, so the Supreme Court’s decision in Action Congress Vs INEC relied upon by the plaintiff’s counsel does not apply””.

“Ayebanoa did not supply false information in his form CF 001 where he declared his age as 34 years, which is below the statutory age of 35 years.

“Since it is a joint ticket, once the running mate is not qualified to contest, it will certainly affect that of the principal candidate. It is immaterial if the governorship candidate meet the requirements of the law”.

“By the combined provisions of Sections 177(b) and 187, the running mate must meet same qualification as that of the principal candidate. Therefore, he must satisfy the requirements of the law which is 35 years and not 34 years”.

“I hold that YDP did not present a validly nominated candidate as at the close of nomination on Sept. 9. Since it is a joint ticket, it will invariably affect the principal candidate, that is to say, the governorship candidate. I hold that YDP has no valid deputy governorship candidate, having submitted an invalid candidate”.

“A person seeking election for the governorship position is not qualified unless he nominates a deputy candidate under Section 177(1).

“Where the running mate is not qualified, it will affect the principal candidate since it is a joint ticket.

The court further held that the party did not have a valid substitution having submitted an invalid nomination.

“Since this nomination was void and a nulity, the purported withdrawal and substitution was a nulity. There must be a valid nomination of a candidate before there can be a valid substitution”.

“It is not INEC that disqualified the candidates, rather, the nomination did not meet the constitutional requirements. The role played by INEC was just to inform the plaintiff of its invalid nomination,’’ he said.

Justice Abang held that “there was no voluntary withdrawal of its candidates, but it was self-inflicted.

The judge, therefore, dismissed the suit for lacking in merit with a cost of N100, 000 against the plaintiffs in favour of INEC. (NAN)

Maina seeks for reassignment of case to another judge, says comment about me unfair – Maina 

Abdulrasheed Maina, Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, on Wednesday, told Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, that his remark on him in the last proceeding was unfair to him.

Maina, who spoke through his counsel, Joe Gadzama, SAN, at the commencement of trial on the case against him filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), sought for the case to be reassigned to another judge.

Gadzama had stood in for Mr Ahmed Raji, SAN.

Recall that on Oct. 25, Justice Abang, while he was about to deliver ruling on the bail application filed by Counsel to Maina, Raji, told the court registrar to tell Maina to stop looking at him to enable him concentrate on delivering the ruling.

“Please I don’t want the 1st defendant to look at me when I am delivering my ruling so that I can concentrate,” he said.

The court registrar in an attempt to amplify the directive of the judge, further compounded the matter as he asked Maina to look at the prosecutor, who brought him to court.

Abang, who was visibly unhappy with the court registrar’s comment, cautioned him against such act.

The judge later continued with his ruling, ordering the EFCC to remind the defendant in the Nigerian Correctional Service centre and adjourned for today, Oct. 30.

However, at the resumed trial on Wednesday, Maina signalled his intention to talk while in the dock but Justice Abang overruled him since he was represented at the court by Gadzama.

“I cannot allow the defendant to speak since he is represented in court,” Abang said.

With the permission of the judge, Gadzama walked to meet Maina, who was in the dock, listened to him as he muttered some words to him.

When Gadzama returned to his seat, he told the judge what Maina had expressed to him.

“My Lord, the 1st defendant told me I should tell the court, on his behalf, that on Oct. 25 of this month, he was before the court and while the court was on, the court asked him not to look at him.

“And he wondered why he should not look at him since he was not the only one that appeared before the court that day,” he said.

Gadzama said as a result of the judge’s remark, Maina told him that his high blood pressure rose astronomically, and he felt so bad with the comment as if he had been convicted already.

Maina counsel, therefore, told Justice Abang that his client told him he would seek the indulgence of the court if the case could be reassigned to another judge.

Responding, Justice Abang, who said he was uncomfortable the way the defendant starred at him consistently while about to deliver his ruling that day, said: “I merely advised him not to stare at me.

“I can’t allow him to stare at me consistently. I am in control of my proceedings and I should also protect myself. If somebody is starring at me consistently, I should protect myself because I did not commit any offence and I did not put him there neither did I assign the case for myself,” he said

The judge, who called the registrar to bear him witness, said Maina’s case was not the first time he would be cautioning a defendant on their conduct while in court.

“Registrar, you have been with me for the past eight months now, is he the only person I have said this to? There was a day a witness was about entering the court dock and he started adjusting his trousers. He looked at me and adjusted his trousers”.

“I told him don’t adjust your trousers; don’t touch your trousers again because I don’t know what is inside the trousers. So I merely advised the defendant not to look at the court. I am from a home; I have my wife and children. I have to protect myself”.

“Please learned SAN, if you are asking for an adjournment say so. This is a court of record. Let us not allow sentiment to take over the proceeding of the court,” Abang said.

However, when Gadzama asked for the adjournment of the matter because he was only briefed the previous day to take over the case, Justice Abang overruled him, saying the court would commence the trial.

He directed the prosecution counsel, Mohammed Abubakar, to call out the first witness.

Maina is being prosecuted by the anti-graft agency on a 12-count charge bordering “money laundering, operating fictitious bank accounts and fraud.”

However, he pleaded not guilty to all the charges levelled against him by the EFCC. (NAN)

Alleged fraud: Court adjourns Maina’s suit for bail application until Nov. 6

The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday, adjourned for hearing the bail application filed by the former Chairman of defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, until Nov. 6.

Justice Okon Abang gave the ruling after taking the arguments of the defence and prosecution counsel.

Maina is being prosecuted by the anti-graft agency on a 12-count charge bordering “money laundering, operating fictitious bank accounts and fraud.”

However, Maina pleaded not guilty to all the charges levelled against him by the EFCC.

The judge had, on Oct 25, fixed Wednesday for trial, after listening to the submissions of prosecution and defence counsel and ordered the EFCC to remand Maina in the Nigerian Correctional Service centre.(NAN)