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The Enigma Called Chief Deinde Fernandez

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By Michael Effiong
Born to Mr Camut Akinwale and Mrs Juliana Francis, Chief Ambassador Antonio Diende Fernandez’s love for his culture and tradition was unmistakable. Little wonder he held the traditional title of Apesin Ola (inije Onimu) of Egbaland.
In an article for Ovation International Magazine, a sister publication of The Boss, Kunle Bakare described him thus “Renowned and well-known round the globe, tall, dark and refined man of commerce is an embodiment of good form, surrounding himself with exquisite things money alone cannot buy.
The Peninsula- The Private island of Chief Fernandez
The Peninsula: Private Island of Chief Fernandez
“With his eyes for details and uncommon panache, Ambassador Deinde Fernandez towers anywhere. Romaticised by most Nigeria’s richest men and women, his is the icing on the elaborately decorated multi-tier cake.
Bashorun Dele Momodu with Chief Fernandez and wife, Aduke
“Holy Cross, Lagos was where he began his education. He moved on to CMS Grammar School, Bariga and St Gregory’s College, Obalende (Both in Lagos) for secondary education. Brookklyn College and St John’s University were the tertiary institutions he attended”.
Fernandez was rich. His wife, Aduke claimed in court that he is worth 600 million pounds and had interests in gold and diamond mines as well as oil fields.
It was also stated that he had interests in such companies as Sandcat Petroleum Limited, Sanantonio Limited, Petro-Inett Limited, Sandcat Enterprises, Inuola Limited, View Limited, Sandcat Goldfields Limited, Voguehope Limited, Woods Limited and Petro-Inett Equatorial Guinea Limited.
He had bank accounts in Scotland, Ireland, Switzerland, France, Hong Kong, the Cayman Islands, USA and Belgium.
In addition, he had kilometres of diamond plants in Angola and was Ambassador at-large  for Congo, Angola and Mozambique as well as United Nation’s Permanent Representative for the Central African Republic.
Fernandez was the shining light who had friends in the highest echelons of society, mixing with super heavyweights. The beloved US President, J.F. Kennedy was a friend. Also, President George Bush Snr.  President Gnassinbge Eyadema and President Samora Michel were members of his inner circle.
The stamp of luxury and splendor were trademarks of the high chief’s fancy as well as “classy and timeless possessions”.
He had this magnificent yacht called Yemoja, a two-storey wonder which had spectacular sitting and dining rooms, a lavish master bedroom. Two baths, two children’s rooms, a gym, entertainment centre among other heavenly paraphernalia.
The owner’s suite had an exquisite sitting room area, his and hers bathrooms, walk-in wardrobes and a lavish bedroom. The yacht’s magnificent stairway  spans three decks  and has carved antelope heads in the balustrade.
”The Goddess of the sea” which is what Yemoja translates to in Yoruba language, was designed by F. de Voogt, built by Van Lent with interior creatively crafted by Lavor. It had dominant African themes, lion skin rug and statues of warriors are prominently displayed on special carpets or white washed paneling.
If you are already gushing at the sheer beauty of this spectacular yacht, wait till you read the details of his outstanding paradise, an island in New York United States of America.
The island had everything including a fire service station and a long bridge leading to his magnificent, eye-popping mansion-The Penninsula
Lavishly decorated rooms, with golden balustrades, dining rooms with golden chandeliers, it is splendor at its highest.
When the water level is high, the state’of the- art -cars are automatically raised above sea level, protecting all the objects on ground.
In an article titled “ Welcome to the Peninsula” by The Boss Publisher for Ovation International, he revealed that the road to The Peninsula is like the road to heaven.
According to the writer “:It will take a determined traveler to meander his way to the very vast well-raid roads to the very last of the islands. Even then, only privileged few are allowed to drive or walk (most likely) on that beautiful road with several awe-inspiring bridges.
“Stern-faced security men stop all visitors, including the domestic staff for a brief chat. Driving the owner’s car is not guarantee of a smooth sail. Such is the elaborate security network on the island.
“As soon as the traveler passes through the proverbial eye of the needle, he is confronted by some little islands, in various degrees of opulence, each belonging to different categories of super rich.
“As you continue to rigmarole your way through the labryrinthine setting, you begin to imagine what your final destination holds in store for you. When you eventually arrive, you cannot but agree that the king himself lives here: It is indeed, Gatsby Country.

 

 

THE MAIN BUILDING

The original structure was substantially altered by the owner, Ambassador Fernandez, a perfectionist who wanted to create an architectural wonder.

In other lands, The Peninsula would probably have been a museum. It is  so monumental that even the richest man in the world would be intimidated by its sheer size and presence.

A giant door about four inches thick with glowing crest, with eerie inscriptions of a confraternity, welcomes the visitor.

The King of the house is a traditional African who romanticizes the beliefs and religion of his forbears.

He was a titled member of Yoruba’s highest cult, The Ogboni, which conferred on him one of its topmost titles, Oluwo.

Inside the house, his paraphernalia adorn a lot of the portraits. Like most Africans whose attitude to religion are syncretic, he respects religions of his people, especially Islam and Christianity.

Chief Fernandez is a proud descendant of the Olumegbon Family in Lagos, whose ancestry dates back to the 17th Century. They are Muslims and this is well represented in the Fernandez home.

As you turn the fat knob of the main door and push, the heavy artefact inwards, a portrait of a praying Muslim confronts you.

It is a symbol of the Olumegbon Clan which Fernandez holds very dear to heart. If you turn left, you will see a waiting room, if you turn right, a passage leads to an office where a stuff lioness stares at you, many portraits  of African heroes like Nelson Mandela and Obafemi Awolowo greet you.

The whole building is alike a well-choreographed orchestra. Every room is a coordinated work of art. No space is wasted . Every choice decoration is special and stylish.

A great deal of time, energy, effort, imagination, creativity and money most have gone into tendering such a stupendous edifice.

There is the ubiquitous Caretaker, Jack, an elderly African from Burkina Faso who has worked with Chief for twenty years. There is Joan, the burly Brazilian, who overseers the great task of keeping the exterior clean. There are two Housekeepers: Jackie and Sara two friendly ladies. And the jetset guys who make things happen: Charles a Greek and karim, an Algerian; the fly all over the world with or without the influential Chief.

SEEING IS BELIEVING

The best novelist in the world would find it had to describe The Peninsula. Where does one begin? The bedroom? The Guest section mainly reserved for special people. The parlous with their rainbows of elegant colours?…only pictures can tell the stories.

A WANDER’S DELIGHT

A walk through The Peninsula is a big journey. As you move from one part to another, you experience an epic feeling in form of streams  of consciousness and flashes of inspiration. Take Examples of these notes:

Doors: There are doors everywhere, over 200 in the whole palace. Each bears an emblem, which is the map of Africa. Fernandez is one man who is proud of his heritage. The doors of various shapes and sizes. The wardrobes have similar doors. In them neatly arranged dresses, shoes, bags, caps , ties and belts from the world’s greatest designers-Valentino, Lnvin, Salvatore Ferragamo, Ralph Lauren, Escade, Bruno Magli, Bally, Channel, Ungaro, John Lobb, Bucheron, Sulka, Jhane Barnes, Gucci, Sratton Crooke…

The door handles were made in California. On each of the faceplates is inscribed” Agbo Meji kii Momi Nikoto ( Two rams cannot drink from same bucket). And there are African maps on everything, including hinges.

WINES

Chief Fernandez is obviously a great connoisseur of vintage wines. He keeps a cellar where esoteric wines assault the senses. His wife told the French Court that his Wine Collection is worth over $1million.

His wine list include: Maisons Marques & Domaines-Oakland (1990), Corton Granay Grand Cru (1996), Chateau Cheval Blanc (1985) Sauternnes (1990) etc. The one that takes the cake is Cristal Champagne Loius Roederer, a millennium Champagne, 2000 bottles of which were produced for worldwide enjoyment. Chief has  four bottles of the wine resting peacefully inside some massive caskets.

ARTS
Everywhere you look, there are enough masterpieces to make a collector green with envy. There are antiques. There are contemporary carvings and paintings. Ben Enwonwu’s carvings stand out. Everything for Fernandez is an art. he once ordered dozens of Louis Vuitton suitcases with his special crest engraved on all of them.
Chief is a great lover of music and a great Sinatra fan. In most exotic hotels around the world, in-house  artistes know his taste. A rendition of MY WAY by Sinatra would automatically earn the singer some ward of minty 100 dollars at The Ritz in Paris, The Lanesbrough, Hyde Park Corner near Knightsbridge , London.
FOOD
Great attention is devoted to preparing good food in the house. Just enter Madame’s kitchen and you will see culinary wonders. No Mandarin could boast of having more cookery books than Chief (Mrs) Fernandez. There are cabinets with all manner of food items, oils, spices, juices, dishes, cups, glasses, knives, all kinds of bottles – oblong, rectangular, rotund, square – and the ovens are massive. Magazines on all subjects are neatly arranged in files.
Even her daughters love . Princess Abimbola, for example, makes cookies for sale (as a hobby). She even has own cash register. She enjoys collecting as little as 27 cents for her sweat (talk of a business girl in the house).
The chef of the house operates from the kitchen, which has all the facilities to cater for top celebrities, many of who drop by once in a while. Chief’s love for good food was demonstrated recently when he employed an Argentine chef. The manner of employment was dramatic. He had contracted the Ritz to recommend a very good chef.
The name of the young man called Christian surfaced but he was said to be in Italy. Chief located him, talked some deals and the chef couldn’t resist the offer. Chief was elated. He quickly bought a home costing about $400, 000 to house Christian. Not only that, he sent Christian to London to learn how to prepare Nigerian dishes like asaro (yam porridge), jollof rice etc. He got his tutorials from the Buka Restaurant on Kilburn High Road and from the wife of Ovation publisher. He soon flew back to New York, ready for the Chief.
LIFE OF A LEGEND
When the young Anthonio Fernandez

migrated to the United States of America on June 8, 1954, he was barely 18. Like many young men of those days, America held out so much promise as the fabled land of opportunities

Before his epic journey, he had spent time at various popular schools in Lagos like The Holy Cross, Saint Gregory’s and C.M.S Grammar School. Even at that early stage, he was well known for his incredible height. And he was a hussler, who tried to give himself a good life. He had a troublesome bicycle at Greg’s, the tyres of which were always going flat. Unknown to him then, he was destined for greatness.

America would turn his ambitious dreams into reality. Two years after the eagle landed, Fernandez made his first million. According to close sources, the money came from the most unexpected place – Jos, Nigeria. The sociable man had ordered for some Bauxite Ore, which was in dire demand in America. The mineral laid fallow in Jos. All he had to do was to arrange its shipment to America. By the time it came, Fernandez was on his way to being one of the world’s richest men

 

unexpected place – Jos, Nigeria. The sociable man had ordered for some Bauxite Ore, which was in dire demand in America. The mineral laid fallow in Jos. All he had to do was to arrange its shipment to America. By the time i came, Fernandez was on his way to being one of the world’s richest men.

Money begets money. Fernandez understood this very well. He started thinking of how to recycle his wealth and make i bigger. He would touch a few other good businesses. He would meet kings and Presidents. The African Prince would begin to carry his height proudly like a true blue blood. He would be crowned all over the world as King Midas and as an international negotiator, a quintessential peacemaker. The colour of his skin will matter less.

Years later, he would go into oil exploration and make it so big. He would be named Ambassador of other nations but his own country, for his people are not known to support success. They relish in backbiting and Self destruction He would build a TOWER FERNANDEZ in his native Lagos Island. But pancake trying women would soon constitute a nuisance in his neighbourhood. And, he dared not complain, or they would tell him “Baba onile gogoro, o wa gbele ru” (the owner of a tall building, why not carry the house on your head). He would try to start some factories in Nigeria, but government bureaucracy would knock him out. He had other bitter encounters

And, he stopped doing business with Nigeria. The story of Fernandez is an epic. He would establish a solid reputation as ‘Mr Fix It. His name would reverberate across the world as a diplomat of diplomats. At the United Nations. friends and colleagues would come to see him as an avuncular figure Nations would engage his services, in order to make the near impossible possible. And he is so efficient, smooth and dashing. His business card today reads:

CHIEF ANTONIO DEINDE FERNANDEZ

Grand Officier de l’Ordre

National du Leopard

Grand Officier de l’Ordre du Mono Commandeur de l’Ordre National du

Merite du Gabon

Officier du Ouissam Alaouite Grand Officier de l’Ordre du Merite

Centrafricain

Ambassador. Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs

If that is not an achievement, nothing is. At 64, Fernandez continues to dream of a powerful mother Africa, a continent that can join the comity of other continents in their march towards prosperity.
His Chateau in France used to be owned by the famous General, Napoleon Bonarparte. It is another architectural masterpiece which sits on a large expanse of land as a big as a village.

The interior bears the indelible signature of the wealthy business mogul, everywhere you turn around this chateau, you are arrested by its sheer elegance and style.

Fernandez, the guardian of panache and prosperity travels in style. He has six topnotch private jets. His fleet includes two Gulfstream G4 and 900 Boeing.

He  worked hard and spent money to live a qualitative, stylish life!

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Behold! The Asiwaju of Edeland, Gov Ademola Adeleke

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By Eric Elezuo

The ancient town of Ede in Osun State is set to host the who’s who in Nigeria’s political and traditional institutions as the Executive Governor of the state, His Excellency, Senator Ademola Nurudeen Jackson Adeleke, is installed as the Asiwaju of Edeland.

The one in town event is scheduled to hold on Monday, May 13, 2024 at the Grounds of the Palace of the Timi of Ędę, HRH Oba Adesola Munirudeen Lawal (Laminisa 1), on the same day the governor, who has been termed as ‘performing’ will be celebrating his 64th birthday.

The Asiwaju title was previously held by Governor Adeleke’s elder brother, Isiaka Adeleke, who passed away on April 23, 2017.

Among dignitaries expected at the event are the former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, members of the Osun State executive and legislative councils, federal legislators, members of the diplomatic Corps, business men, politicians across the nation, entertainers and the general public.

THE MAN, ADEMOLA JACKSON ADELEKE

He has one of the most jovial personalities, combined with a mien that is down to earth and thoroughly enterprising. Many call him ever smiling senator; some others call him dancing senator while a whole lot of others call him the incoming governor. He is the Senator, who represented Osun West Senatorial district in the Nigeria’s upper legislative chamber between 2015 and 2019. He is Ademola Jackson Adeleke, a distinguished contender for the Osun governorship seat. 

Born of the Adeleke family of Ede in Osun State on May 13, 1960, Adeleke commenced his primary education at Methodist Primary School, Surulere Lagos State before he was privileged to relocate to Old Oyo State to continue his education at Nawarudeen Primary School, Ikire.

Adeleke was born Nurudeen Ademola Adeleke to a Muslim father and Nnena Esther Adeleke, an Igbo Christian mother. Like him, Adeleke’s father, Raji Ayoola Adeleke was a Senator and the Balogun of Ede land in Osun State. His father, Raji Ayoola Adeleke was also the leader of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN).

On completion of his primary education, he moved on to The Seventh Day Adventist Secondary School, Ede to begin his post primary schooling. In the later years however, he attended Ede Muslim Grammar School Ede, where he completed his secondary school education and subsequently relocated to the United States of America, joining his two older brothers, who were also studying there.

In the United States, he joined Jacksonville State University, Alabama, and studied Criminal Justice, with minor in Political Science.

To prove doubting Thomases, who wiped up controversies around his educational qualification, wrong, he went back to school and got enrolled at Atlanta Metropolitan State College in the United States, where he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice in 2021.

A businessman and administrator of no mean repute, Adeleke was the humble Group Executive Director at his brother’s company, Pacific Holdings Limited from 2001 to 2016, where his credible performances shot the company to enviable heights; a height it is still enjoying till date.

It is imperative to note that before he joined Pacific Holdings Limited, Senator Adeleke worked with Quicksilver Courier Company in Atlanta, Georgia, US, as a service contractor from 1985 to 1989. His dexterity to work earned him a progression in career, and he berthed as Vice President at Origin International LLC, Atlanta, Georgia, US, a flavours and fragrance manufacturing company. His meritorious stewardship lasted a period of five years, from 1990 to 1994.

Not a few has described Adeleke as the philanthropic capital of Ede, as his influence in aiding the less privileged and downtrodden remains top notch. He is a voracious believer in community development, and has not spared any expense to see that his community receives global influence.

Politically, Adeleke is a beacon of light and hard nut to crack, having remained an albatross to opposing powers and a reference point to ideal administration.

Shortly after he lost his brother, Senator Isiaka Adeleke, who died in April 2017, he contested the Osun West 2017 Senatorial by-election after the death of his brother, emerging as the winner under the Peoples Democratic Party, where he decamped to from the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Having emerged senator, Adeleke’s political influence waxed stronger, an on July 23, 2018, he emerged as the governorship candidate of PDP in Osun State after defeating Akin Ogunbiyi by seven votes. Efforts made to deprive him of the mandate was twated by the courts.

Adeleke’s lawyer in his defense claims his secondary school hasn’t come out to deny his testimonial asking the court to dismiss the Case. The court dismissed the suit stating that the plaintiff could not prove Adeleke’s forgery.

Adeleke ran for Osun state governorship election under the PDP against top contenders Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola of APC and Iyiola Omisore of SDP on 22 September 2018. The election was declared inconclusive by the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) while Adeleke was leading, and a rerun slated on September 27, 2018. The candidate of the APC Oyetola was declared winner after the run-off. Adeleke protested the result describing the election as a “coup”.

Much as on March 22, 2019, the tribunal sitting in Abuja declared Adeleke the winner of the election, the Supreme Court later affirmed Gboyega Oyetola as the authentic winner of the 2018 Osun State governorship election on Friday, July 5, 2019

Popularly known as the Dancing Senator because of his penchant to joyfully react to the sounds of music, Adeleke is uncle to one of Nigeria’s popular musicians, Davido.

Governor Adeleke is married to an equally successful businesswoman and a self-made boss. They are blessed with three children who are all entertainers. They are B-Red and Shina Rambo and a daughter, Nike Adeleke. He is the uncle of one Nigeria’s primus inter pares in entertainment, Davido.

As expected, Adeleke is moving Osun State to the greatest of heights as he promised, and many who know him agree that there are still very many more in the offing.

HIS EXTRAORDINARY EASE OF DOING BUSINESS STRATEGY 

The governor has shared good news on the ease of doing business in the state as follows:

In continuation of our administration’s effort to improve the state economy and encourage the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), we have completed the harmonization of multiple taxes and levies collected by different government departments, agencies, and ministries across all business sectors of the state economy including the informal sectors into a single bill. This Harmonized Bill curates all levies, which businesses are expected to pay on an annual basis as a single bill.

This initiative is to promote ease of doing business by ensuring seamless and convenient payment of levies and taxes due to individuals and businesses across the state in equal or unequal tranches and ensure the issuance of Harmonized Bill Certificate upon completion of payment of the total amount.

I hereby note to all business owners in Osun state both in formal and informal sectors that the official online payment channels for the state is pay.irs.os.gov.ng; POS machines in Tax stations across the state; commercial banks across Nigeria; and Money Transfer Services for those outside Nigeria.

In addition, we have also completed the deployment of Automation System for improved service delivery on payment of rent and lease on government properties; processing of Certificates of Occupancy (C of O) in 45 days; Electronic Affidavit System; Electronic State of Origin and Local Government Area of Origin portal; Mobile tax stations; Online Tax payment system etc.

OFFICIAL PROFILE OF GOVERNOR ADEMOLA ADELEKE, THE NEW ASIWAJU OF EDELAND

Governor Ademola Jackson Nurudeen Adeleke, the Executive Governor of Osun state and the new Asiwaju of Edeland is a pan Nigerian by birth, by philosophy and by worldview. Born at Enugu as a son of independence on 13th May, 1960, the new Ede frontliner widely acknowledged as the Olosun of Osun is a tactical politician, a businessman, show business activist and a humanist within philanthropism. The ever lively, urbane scion of the Adeleke family of Ede North Local Government is an innovative entrepreneur, a grassroot political figure and a strong advocate of good governance, then as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and now as the Governor of Osun State.

From his childhood, the Asiwaju is a man of complex character, a young man with multiplicity of talents and an adult with widely praised open heart, strong will and constancy of adaptation to ideas and innovations. From his secondary education at Ede Muslim Grammar School to his sojourn to the United States and tertiary education at the Jacksonville State University, Alabama where he majored in criminal justice, the Ede frontliner demonstrated deep business interest, unconventional approach and a rare mastery of intricacies of politics, business and social life.

Despite hailing from a well to do family, the Asiwaju was in the United States and Nigeria, a man in search of opportunities for self growth and advancement. His passion for self development and business prosperity occasioned his joining the Quicksilver Courier Company in Atlanta, Georgia, US, as a service contractor between 1985–1989. He progressed to Origin International LLC, Atlanta, Georgia, US, a flavours and fragrance manufacturing company where he served as Vice President from 1990 to 1994.

A suave businessman and administrator, he served as a Director of Guiness Nigeria Limited between 1992- 1999 where he contributed immensely to the expansion of the multinational company. He was later appointed Group Executive Director of Pacific Holdings Limited from 2001 to 2016. Senator Adeleke is also an acclaimed creative Industry entrepreneur and mentor. As a talented creative figure, he mentored world rated ace musicians while his family members and children are leading stars in the global music industry.

As a man ever restless in pursuit of self growth and opportunities, the Asiwaju again opted to restart his educational sojourn which he suspended because of business and entrepreneurial preoccupations. In 2019 after he was rigged out of a governorship election he clearly won, Governor Adeleke, in a can do spirit, re-enrolled at Atlanta Metropolitan State College in the United States and obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice in 2021.

All along and considering his family background, the frontliner was for years both a political servant and leader, learning the rope from his father (Senator Ayoola Adeleke) , a second republic progressive Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and his brother, Senator Isiaka Adetunji Adeleke, the First Executive Governor of Osun State. His business teeth were sharpened by his brother, the global business mogul, Dr Adedeji Adeleke while his political potency was strengthened by his sister, the Yeyeluwa of Edeland, Chief (Mrs) Dupe Adeleke- Sanni. The celebrant of today was eventually elected the President of the Adeleke dynasty, representing the sons and daughters of the great Adeleke family at home and abroad.

Having been thus fortified by his innate personality, his family background and his multifaceted experience, his political participation predated 1991 but he took the front seat in 2017 when he was elected with a landslide victory as a Senator for Osun West Senatorial District in 2017. His popularity reached a peak when he won the Osun 2018 governorship election before the open rigging and manipulation that was globally condemned.

As a man of steel character, the frontliner took the gauntlet again in 2022 and beat the incumbent to reclaim the stolen mandate of 2018. Imole as the Governor is popularly known has since been delivering on good governance, winning applause and praises from far and near.

In December 2023, he was honoured with a doctorate degree by the Valley View University, Accra, Ghana. The Vice Chancellor lauded the Governor’s multi-million naira education scholarship as a Senator, his sterling records on workers welfare as a Governor, his performance on infrastructure upgrades and his commitment to due process, rule of law and fear of God.

He has received several awards including the Governor of the Year Award by Champion newspapers in 2023, Sahel Standard Man of the Year in 2022, Vanguard Newspaper Governor of the Year on Infrastructure and a host of other recognition. The frontliner serves on several national governmental committees including being the representative of the South West on the National Minimum Wage Committee.

The new Asiwaju of Edeland is a strong family man, an avid sport lover, a man of God and a David of our time with incessant passion for praise singing and adulation of God Almighty.

Courtesy: Governor’s Office, 2024.

By this new office, Governor Adeleke is now the one who leads in Edeland, and is expected to use his office to better the lot of the people of Ede.

Congratulations sir!

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You’re Non-Existent, Fubara Tells Amaewhule-led Rivers Assembly

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Rivers State Governor, Similaya Fubara, has taken a swipe at the Martin Amaewhule-led group of lawmakers at the state House of Assembly and declared that they do not exist anymore in the eyes of the law.

“Let me say it here, those groups of men who claim that they are assembly members, they do not exist. I want it to be on the record,” Fubara declared

The governor stated this when he received on courtesy visit the Bayelsa State delegation of political and traditional leaders, led by former Governor of the State, Senator Seriake Dickson, at Government House in Port Harcourt on Monday.

Fubara and 26 members of the assembly loyal to former governor, Nyesom Wike, have been at loggerheads after the move to impeach the governor was thwarted.

He told the delegation that he has been showing restraint since the political crisis escalated in the state.

The governor further stated that despite wielding state powers that he can deploy to achieve his aim, he has continued to act as the big brother in the face of intimidation and unwarranted attacks.

“So, I want you to see the sacrifice I have made to allow peace to be in our state. I can say here, with all amount of boldness, I have never called any policeman anywhere to go and harass anybody.

“I have never gone anywhere to ask anybody to do anything against anybody. But what happens to the people that are supporting me? They are being harassed, they are being arrested and detained.

“There is no week that somebody doesn’t come here with one letter of invitation for trump-up charges and all those things,” he said.

The governor added, “I am saying all these because of what my senior said here. I don’t think the other party has shown any restraint. I am the one who has shown restraint in the face of this crisis.

“I am the one that is badly hit, even when I have all the government instruments to shake up the table. But, why will I do it? I believe that peace is the best relationship to cultivate.”

He revealed that he had always been present at any meeting that was called to resolve the crisis in the state but after each meeting, he was met with a new dimension of the crisis from the opposing side.

He, however, vowed to continue to be peaceful, acknowledging that power is transient.

“We might have our division, but I believe that one day, we could also come together, but it has gotten to a time when I have to make a statement that they are not existing. Their existence is me allowing them to exist. If I de-recognize them, they are nowhere. I want you to see the sacrifice I have made in allowing peace to reign in our state,” he concluded.

The Punch

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Yahaya Bello vs EFCC: The Tussle Continues

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By Eric Elezuo

With the declaration of the Apppeal Court, sitting in Abuja over the weekend, ordering a stay of proceedings in the contempt charge instituted by Yahaya Bello, former Kogi governor, against Ola Olukoyede, chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the stage seems set for an elongation of legal fireworks between the two feuding entities.

The declaration was a follow-up of Bello, who approached the Kogi High Court, seeking an order to issue and serve the respondent (EFCC chairman) with “form 49 notice” to show cause why an order of committal should not be made on him.

The judge, after listening to the arguments of the applicant’s counsel, the submission and the exhibits attached in the written address, granted Bello’s prayers and ordered Olukoyede to be summoned to appear before the court to answer the contempt charge.

However, while it is believed that the crisis of apprehending the former governor for prosecution is an institutional matter, many on the other hand, has accused the EFCC chairman of attaching a lot of personal interest in the matter going by the way he is fighting tooth and nail to see Bello in custody.

In a chat with editors at the EFCC Headquarters, Jabi, Abuja, the anti-graft agency chairman swore to follow the prosecution of Bello to the logical conclusion.

He also vowed that all those who obstructed the arrest of the former governor would be brought to justice.

The EFCC is seeking to arraign Bello on 19 counts bordering on alleged money laundering, breach of trust and misappropriation of funds to the tune of N80.2 billion.

“If I do not personally oversee the completion of the investigation regarding Yahaya Bello, I will tender my resignation as the EFCC Chairman,” Mr Olukoyede had vowed, adding that those who obstructed the arrest of the former governor would be brought to book. This was a veiled accusation against the governor of Kogi State, Usman Ododo, who used security agents to forestall the arrest of Bello in Abuja.

Olukoyede had also accused Bello of paying his children’s school fees upfront with funds from the atatae coffers.

“A sitting governor moved $720,000 directly from the government account to the Bureau de Change and used it to pay for the school fees of his child in advance in a poor state like Kogi, and you want me close my eyes under the guise that I’m being used. Use by who? At this stage of my life? By who for crying out loud?

“I didn’t initiate the case, I inherited the case file,” he retorted.

The EFCC had sought to arrest Yahaya Bello following his absence from court, and an order by Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court in Abuja after his absence in court.

He was absent from court for his arraignment on a 19-count charge of alleged money laundering to the tune of ₦80bn.

The judge relied on sections 384(4) and (5) of the Administrative and Criminal Justice Act 2015, directing the counsel to the immediate past governor to receive a copy of the charge.

The court held that where it had become impossible to effect personal service of a legal process on a defendant, such could be done through substituted means.

Justice Nwite further held that it was clear that the former governor failed to appear in court for his arraignment.

Notable minds including veteran journalist, Dele Momodu; human advocate and constitutional lawyer, Mike Ozekhome among others have said that the brazen nature with which Olukoyede is going about the matter smacks of personal vendetta, noting that now that the court of appeal has ordered a stay of execution of the contempt of court charges against Olukoyede, everyone must maintain status quotes, and allow Bello to respond to court summon, as the case is now between him and the court of Justice Nwite.

On his part, Momodu has lashed out at the EFCC for selective prosecution, wondering if Olukoyede has any personal stake in the matter, adding that generally the EFCC misfired in the Bello saga.

He said in part, during his Instagram live show:

“I don’t work for EFCC but from all the things that I have read, a lot of them, they misfired. That is the honest truth. They misfired. They didn’t do their due diligence. When you said a man took out money and paid for his children’s school fees, just as he was about to leave power, and you go and check the documents and you see that these things started happening from 2021, 2022 (laughs); I am not an illiterate.

“How do you expect me to believe everything they said when they were too much in a hurry to prosecute him that they did not take their time to check the file. Once you allow a lacuna in law, everything will fall flat.

“That is it. I am not one of those people who will say because I don’t like APC and because I supported Dino Melaye in the last election in Kogi State. Dino is my guy. But, I will not because of that be blinded by hatred for Yahaya Bello and say yes, he should go and surrender himself to EFCC when there is an existing injunction.

“And he is not the only governor who went to court and if the court has granted him that, so be it. We all know that our judiciary is not so perfect but you know, even at that, law is law, it must be obeyed. If we disobey the rule of law, then, we will have to obey the rule of the jungle. So, I never said that they are lying, it is their own statement that shows that they didn’t do their due diligence.”

TheCable, in its report, recalled that “a Kogi State high court presided over by Isa Jamil Abdullahi, had ordered Olukoyede to appear before it on May 13 to show why he should not be committed to prison for allegedly disobeying its order restraining the EFCC from arresting or taking any action against Bello.

“However, the EFCC chairman filed an appeal against the court summon.

“Olukoyede filed two motions, one seeking a stay of execution of the summon, and another one asking to serve processes on Bello via substituted means by pasting the process at his Abuja residence on No 9 Bengazi Steet Wuse Zone 4.

“In its ruling, a three-member panel of justices led by Joseph Oyewole granted the two motions.

“The appellate court fixed May 20 for the hearing of the substantive appeal marked CA/ABJ/CV/413/2024.

“Bello had on February 8, 2024, instituted a fundamental rights enforcement suit, asking the court to declare that “the incessant harassment, threats of arrest and detention, negative press releases, malicious prosecution” by the EFCC, “without any formal invitation, is politically motivated and interference with his right to liberty, freedom of movement, and fair hearing”.

“The former governor also sought an order “restraining the respondent by themselves, their agents, servants or privies from continuing to harass, threaten to arrest or detain him”.

“On February 9, the Kogi high court granted an interim injunction restraining the EFCC from “continuing to harass, threaten to arrest, detain, prosecute Bello, his former appointees, and his staff or family members, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive originating motion for the enforcement of his fundamental rights”.

On March 12, the EFCC filed an appeal against the interim injunction because the court could not stop the commission from carrying out its statutory responsibility.

The Kogi high court delivered judgment on the substantive motion on notice on April 17 wherein the presiding judge granted an order restraining the EFCC “from continuing to harass, threaten to arrest or detain Bello”.

However, the judge directed the commission to file a charge against Bello before an appropriate court if it had reasons to do so.

The judgment coincided with the recent “siege” laid on the Abuja residence of  Bello by EFCC operatives seeking to arrest him.

The commission had also obtained a warrant of arrest against the former governor from the federal high court in Abuja.

The EFCC is seeking to arraign Bello on 19 counts bordering on alleged money laundering, breach of trust and misappropriation of funds to the tune of N80.2 billion.

At the scheduled arraignment on April 18, Bello was absent.

At the court session, Abdulwahab Mohammed, counsel to Bello, told  Emeka Nwite, the presiding judge, that the court lacked jurisdiction to grant the warrant of arrest in the first instance.

He referenced the February 9 interim injunction issued by the Kogi high court, adding that the appeal filed by the EFCC was still pending.

However, the EFCC has filed a notice to withdraw the appeal.

In the notice filed on April 22, the anti-graft agency said the withdrawal was predicated on the fact that events have overtaken the appeal.

The commission also admitted that the appeal was filed out of the time allowed by law.

With the present status, legal minds are of the opinion that matters have returned to status quo, and Justice Emeka Nwite, reserved the right to order Bello’s appearance in court, and await his appearance before any other injunction can be  made.

“For now, it is not about who won or who did not. The matters of the case rest with the invitation of Bello by Justice Nwite. Bello was absent during his first summon, and the case was adjourned. So, everyone has to keep the calm and wait for the next hearing and see if he appears or not as directly by his lordship,” Ozekhome noted.

As it is therefore, May 20 will be a deciding factor for both Bello and EFCC as the tussle for who laughs last continues.

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