By Gbenga Ogunbufunmi
A Federal High Court, Lagos, yesterday, fixed March 11, for judgment in a criminal charge filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against President of Institute of Directors (IoD) Mr. Samuel Akinyemi Akeju and two others.
The court presided over by Justice Ibrahim Nasir Buba, fixed the date for judgment, after the prosecution and counsel to the defendants have adopted their final written addresses.
Akeju alongside the Secretary of the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Plc (NSPM) and Mrs Abieyuwa Aideyan and a limited liability company, First Grant Nigeria Limited, were first arraigned before the court in March 13, 2017, for allegedly acting contrary to the Public Procurement Act.
The EFCC in an amended charge marked FHC/L/41c/17, Akeju and his company were alleged to have on September 10, 2012, unduly influence the opening competitive bidding as contained in the Guardian newspaper advertisement of July 18, 2012, for disposal of government property known as Pacific Village, located at Ijede, in Ikorodu Local Government area of Lagos State by directly contacting the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Secretary of Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Plc (NSPMP), instead of contacting M&G Chambers, Victoria Island, as required in the advertisement, which resulted in his offer for the acquisition of the land at the sun of N200 million.
The anti-graft agency also alleged in the charge that the NSPMP’s Secretary, Mrs. Aideyan, had on or about November 18, 2012, restricted the process of opening competitive bidding in the disposal of the said property ‘Pacific Village’, when she unduly favoured Akeju’s company, ‘First Grant Nigeria Limited, which submitted her offer for the acquisition of the property directly to the office of the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of NSPMP, and rejected the offer submitted by Adprint Network Limited, and Duexville Limited submitted through M&G Chambers, as required in the Guardian newspaper advertisement of July 18, 2012.
The offences according to EFCC are contrary to Sections 16(23) and 55(3), and punishable under sections 58(1) and 58(8) of the Public Procurement Act, 2007.
The two defendants had pleaded not guilty to the charge. And admitted to bail.
When the matter came up for adoption of final written addresses today, lawyers to the defendants, led by Segun Sipeolu, while urging the court to discharge and acquit their clients of the allegations, said what the prosecution only relied on and predicated the charge against the defendants on was a document ‘petition’.
He also told the court that the issue that led to the petition was a commercial transaction, which several authorities had pronounced that the security agencies including EFCC must not be used to settled between parties.
He therefore urged the court to discharge and acquit their clients.
Responding, the EFCC lawyer, Mr. George Chia-Yakua, while urging the court to pronounce the defendants guilty as charged and convict them accordingly, told the court that the charge against them was not predicated of any petition, but against the Section 16 (1) of the public Procurement Act.
Chia-Yakua told the court that the processes taken by the defendants in selling government property were not transparent. He added that a bid of N250 million was made for the said property, but the defendants sold it at the price lesser that that after two years of the bid.
He therefore urged the court to hold that the prosecution had been able to prove its case against the defendants beyond every reasonable doubt and convict them as charged.
Upon listened to the both parties, Justice Buba adjourned the matter till March 11, for judgment