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Court Rejects Yahaya Bello’s Bid To Transfer Case To Kogi State Over Alleged N80.2 Billion Fraud

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Justice John Tsoho, Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, has rejected a request by former Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, to transfer his N80.2 billion fraud case from Abuja to the Kogi division of the court.

The Chief Judge sided with Dr. Kemi Pinheiro (SAN), counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), who argued that Bello’s application was flawed on three grounds.

The ruling means the case will continue to be heard in Abuja.

Yahaya Bello is facing a 19-count charge of alleged money laundering, breach of trust, and misappropriation of public funds totalling approximately N80.2 billion in suit FHC/ABJ/CR/98/2024 before Justice Emeka Nwite.

Despite issuing statements denying the allegations, Bello has repeatedly failed to appear in court for his arraignment, missing scheduled appearances on June 13 and June 27.

At the last hearing, Bello, through his lawyer, Abdulwahab Muhammed (SAN) filed an application dated June 10, 2024, to the Chief Judge for the transfer of his trial to the Federal High Court, Lokoja.

But Pinheiro opposed him, arguing among others that since the alleged offences were committed partly in Kogi and Abuja, the case could be filed in either states.

CJ Tsoho, in a July 2 letter signed by his Special Assistant Joshua Ibrahim Aji, agreed with Pinheiro.

Aji said: “I am directed by His Lordship, the Honourable, the Chief Judge to inform you that he has considered your arguments in support of the application for transfer of the Defendant’s case from Abuja to Lokoja and the response of Dr. ‘Kemi Pinheiro, SAN to same.

“His Lordship’s position on the matter is as follows: The main complaint in the case borders on alleged conversion and transfer of funds of Kogi State to Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), to purchase property through acts of concealment.

“The law permits the filing of the charge either in Abuja, FCT or in Lokoja, Kogi State; the offence(s) having been allegedly partly committed in both places. Hence, this is distinguishable from IBORI v. F.R.N. (2008) LPELR8370 or (2009) 3 NWLR (Pt. 1127) C.A. 94 and other judicial authorities relied upon by the Defendant.

“The Prosecution has shown with documentary evidence that two criminal charges in the same scheme of alleged fraud leading to the charge against the Defendant, were earlier filed and are being tried in the Federal High Court, Abuja in Charge No. FHC/ABJ/CR/550/22 F. R. N. v. 1. Ali Bello, 2. Dauda Suleiman and F. R. N. v. 1. Ali Bello, 2. Abba Daudu, 3. Yakubu Siyaka Adabenege, 4. Iyadi Sadat. In both charges a formal application was made for their transfer to Lokoja, but the Court in a considered ruling refused the application. The ruling has not been set aside and cannot be reversed by administrative fiat.

“There is documentary evidence of a pending appeal in Yahaya Adoza Bello v. F. R. N. filed on 17/05/2024, wherein the Defendant as Appellant has sought a consequential order remitting the case to the Chief Judge for reassignment. It is not proper to take any step that will be tantamount to pre-empting the outcome of the appeal.”

The judge also considered the issue of jurisdiction.

“The main issue raised is jurisdictional in nature and will be more appropriately decided by the court. The matter should therefore be presented in open court.

“Please, accept the esteemed regards of His Lordship, the Honourable, The Chief Judge,” Aji added.

Yahaya Bello has been embroiled in a prolonged legal dispute with the EFCC regarding his arraignment. The EFCC has subsequently issued a warrant for his arrest, declaring him wanted, after he repeatedly failed to comply with court orders to surrender himself for arraignment.

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Fidelity Bank Eyes Oversubscription To N127.1 Billion Combined Offers

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Against the background of groundswell of supports and enthusiasm for the bank’s ongoing offers, Fidelity Bank Plc has started preparations to allow the bank absorb oversubscriptions.

With investors rallying behind the bank’s N127.1 billion combined rights and public offer, market pundits had indicated that the bank would raise more than initial size of the combined offer.

Reports have shown high subscription levels for the offers early weeks of the offer period, riding on the back of acceptances by existing shareholders and demand by the general investing public.

Fidelity Bank is offering a rights issue of 3.2 billion ordinary shares of 50 kobo each at N9.25 per share. The bank is also simultaneously offering 10 billion ordinary shares of 50 kobo each to the general investing public at N9.75 per share.

The acceptance and application lists for the rights issue and public offer, which opened on Thursday, June 20, 2024, are scheduled to close on Monday, July 29, 2024. The rights issue has been pre-allotted on the basis of one new ordinary share for every 10 existing ordinary shares held as at the close of business on Friday, January 05, 2024.

With promising feedbacks from receiving agents and as shareholders, investors, experts and other stakeholders continue to rate the combined offers high, the board of Fidelity Bank has called an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) to enable the bank to absorb expected surplus funds.

Shareholders are scheduled to meet later this month to authorise the company “to accept surplus monies arising from potential oversubscription of the combined offer in such proportion as may be determined by the board of directors, subject to the company’s issued share capital and obtaining relevant regulatory approvals”.

Shareholders are also expected to increase the issued share capital of the company from N22.6 billion divided into 45.2 billion ordinary shares of 50 Kobo each to N26.70 billion through the creation of up to 8.2 billion in order to “accommodate potential oversubscription of the combined offer in the proportion of 5.0 billion additional ordinary shares under the public offer and 3.2 billion additional ordinary shares under the rights issue”.

The meeting will also mandate the board to take all necessary actions in line with the absorption of the oversubscription funds.

The board of the bank reiterated its commitment to retain the bank’s international banking license by meeting the new capital requirement within the regulatory timeframe.

According to the board, the resolutions proposed for shareholders’ approval at the upcoming EGM of July 26, 2024, are to enable acceptance of potential oversubscription from the combined offer, subject to relevant regulatory approvals.

The board pointed out that with the resolutions to accept oversubscription, the bank will be in stronger position to take advantage of emerging business opportunities and secure long-term profitability and competitive advantage, while ensuring increased shareholder value.

The net proceeds of the offer would be applied to investments in information technology infrastructure, business and regional expansion, and product distribution channels.

“The company is on a strong growth trajectory and requires additional capital for improved profitability, expansion- domestic and international, and enhancement of its digital capabilities.

“Continuing advances in technology, the rapid evolution of the business of banking, and changes in the operating landscape also make it imperative that the bank remains agile, adaptable and properly positioned to respond appropriately to developments, whilst remaining a competitive and forward-looking institution,” the board stated.

Directors of the bank assured that notwithstanding the continued rapid evolution of the banking industry, Fidelity Bank has been placed on foundation for strong and sustainable growth.

Fidelity Bank Plc’s combined N127.1 billion rights and public offer had struck early success as enthusiastic shareholders mobilise to pick their pre-allotted shares and buy more stakes in Nigeria’s most-widely owned commercial bank.

Shareholders have said they would pick their rights and buy more shares from the public offer in a massive show of support and positioning in the bank. Fidelity Bank had delivered an average annual capital gain of more than 100 per cent over the past five years and ranked among the elite stocks with the highest corporate governance rating at the Nigerian stock market.

In separate interviews, shareholders across Nigeria’s leading shareholders’ associations, said the pricing of the highly discounted rights issue and public offer, the operational growth of the bank over the years, dividend records and capital gains were attractions to buy more stakes in the bank. Fidelity Bank is one of the few companies that pay dividends twice a year at the stock market.

They envisioned that a post-recapitalisation Fidelity Bank would deliver higher returns and continue to be a leading preserver of values for shareholders’ wealth.

The shareholders, who spoke through their leaders, said recapitalisation has offered good opportunity to the investing public to buy into good banking stocks at reduced prices, noting that banks are the most influential stocks at the Nigerian market. Subscribers to primary market issues are exempted from paying transaction costs, unlike direct purchase through the secondary market.

Shareholders, under the auspices of Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), Ibadan Zone Shareholders Association (IBZA), Association for the Advancement of Rights of Nigerian Shareholders (AARNS), Pragmatic Shareholders Association of Nigeria and Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria among others, said they were picking up their rights and mobilising supports for the bank.

The general shareholders’ endorsements represent a major boost for Fidelity Bank, which has the most diversified retail shareholders’ base among Nigerian banks.

With nearly 400,000 shareholders, no single shareholder held up to 5.0 per cent of the issued share capital of the bank. Five per cent and above are considered the material shareholding under extant laws and market regulations.

Rights issue is traditionally pre-allotted on the basis of existing shareholdings and its success, most often, depend largely on the satisfaction and enthusiasm of existing shareholders.

Fidelity Bank appears to be riding high on its highly diversified shareholding base with its popularity showing across all cadres of investors in the market. The shareholders’ comments came on the heels of similar positive comments by investment experts and capital market stakeholders.

The combined rights and public offers had opened to a rousing support from the investing public as key capital market stakeholders recalled the symbolic importance of Fidelity Bank’s impressive growths and investor-friendly disposition over the years.

From the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) to stockbrokers, investors and customers; the N127.1 billion combined rights and public offer received unreserved recommendations, with industry thought leaders citing the performance of Fidelity Bank in its core banking operations and as a quoted company at the stock market.

They said Fidelity Bank’s N127.1 billion combined rights and public offer was the right way for the nation’s banking recapitalisation exercise to start as the bank, which has the highest corporate governance rating and an average annual capital gain of more than 100 per cent at the stock market, has strong appeal to the investing public.

The Doyen of Stockbrokers, the oldest practicing stockbroker, Alhaji Rasheed Yussuff, said Fidelity Bank has good records going for it with its history of impressive growth and profitability and dividend payments.

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NNPCL Explains Reason For Drop In Dangote Refinery’s Stake To 7.2%

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The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited has said that it decided not to add to its earlier investment in the 650,000 barrels per day Dangote Refinery.

NNPCL spokesperson, Olufemi Soneye disclosed this in a terse statement in reaction to Dangote Refinery’s announcement that NNPC’s stake is now 7.2 percent contrary to the 20 percent stake.

According to Soneye, NNPCL had several months ago decided to cap its investment at the amount already paid.

Soneye said that the decision not to invest any further in the Dangote refinery did not impact NNPC’s business.

“Several months ago, we made a commercial decision to cap our investment at the amount already paid.

“This decision was taken by NNPC Ltd and has no impact on our business,” he said.

This comes as the Chairman of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, revealed that NNPCL’s stake in the Dangote Refinery is now 7.2 percent due to NNPC’s failure to pay the balance of their shares, which was due in June last month.

However, the position is contrary to the widely announced claim by the Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPCL, Mele Kyari, that the company had bought 20 percent in Dangote Refinery.

 

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Dem Staffer Fired After Saying Donald Trump Gunman Should Have Taken ‘Shooting Lessons So You Don’t Miss Next Time’

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Democrats staffer fired after saying Trump gunman should have taken ‘shooting lessons so you don’t miss next time’

A staff member of a Mississippi Democratic congressman has reportedly been fired after saying she wished sho0ter Thomas Crooks had ‘better aim’ to take Donald Trump’s life.

On Saturday evening, July 13, shortly after Thomas Matthew Crooks, 20, attempted to assassinate the former president during a rally in Pennsylvania, Jacqueline Marsaw, the field director for Mississippi Congressman Bennie G. Thompson shared a vile post on Facebook about the attack.

Marsaw, 61, the president and vice president of a local NAACP in Natchez, Mississippi, has since deleted the post and her account, but screenshots have been shared across social media.

She shared: ‘I don’t condone violence but please get some shooting lessons so you don’t miss next time ooops that wasn’t me talking.’

 

Democratic congressman

In a follow-up post, she said: ‘That’s what your hate speech got you!!’

Marsaw has since been fired from her position by Mississippi Congressman Bennie G. Thompson.

‘I was made aware of a post made by a staff member and she is no longer in my employment,’ Thompson said

A member of the crowd was killed in the deadly sho0ting, while two others who were wounded are in a critical condition. All three are males, according to law enforcement officials.

After Trump was sh0t, the Secret Service swarmed around the 45th US President as piercing screams were heard from the MAGA crowd.

He then got to his feet with blood down his cheek and raised his fist in the air while the audience shouted ‘USA’ as he was dragged off stage.

Trump was taken to the hospital for treatment before being later released.

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