Patience Jonathan’s $15.5M: Prosecution’s Absence Stalls Jonathan’s Aide, Others Trial

* Scales of Justice * Source: Iconfinder

 

The scheduled trial of Waripamo-owei Emmanuel Dudafa, former Senior Special Adviser on Domestic Affairs to President Goodluck Jonathan, and two others, over alleged $15.5 million, money laundering before a Federal High Court, Lagos, suffered a setback today, due to the absence of the lawyer to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) .

The two other accused persons are a legal practitioner, Amajuoyi Azubike Briggs and a senior staff of Skye Bank Plc, Adedamola Bolodeoku.

The trio were charged alongside four companies, namely: Pluto Property Development Company Limited; Seagate Property Development Company Limited, Transocean Property Development Company Limited, and Avalon Property Development Company Limited.

The defendants are facing fraud charge of $15.591, 700 million, which the former Nigeria’s first lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, is laying claiming to.

At the resumed hearing of the matter today, the  presiding  judge, Justice Babs Kuewumi, informed defendants’ lawyers of a letter written to the court by the EFCC Prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, seeking for an adjournment due to a ‘national assignment’, outside the court’s jurisdiction.

Responding to the EFCC’s letter Dudafa’s lawyer, Gboyega Oyewole, described the situation the defence find themselves as unfortunate, saying that if it was Defendants that acted in such manner, the EFCC would have accused both the court and defence of delaying the proceedings.

According to him, “it is most unfortunate that the case is slated for trial today, but the prosecution has delayed it. If it’s defence, they would have gone to press and say the court and defendants have delay proceedings. Rotimi Oyedepo is not the only lawyer in EFCC, the Commission has largest Chamber in Nigeria. It is unfortunate situation, and I urge the court not to grant the application”.

In the same vein, lawyer to the second defendant, Ige Asemudara, said he was taking aback hearing for the first time that the prosecutor will not be in court due to national assignment, which its content is not define in the letter sent to court.

Parts of the EFCC’s letter which was read by Asemudara reads, “kindly bring to the notice of the court that counsels in this case, Rotimi Oyedepo and other lawyers are outside jurisdiction for a National Assignment “.

Asemudara said there were no reasonable reasons in the letter, urging the court to refuse the application.

Also, lawyers representing third defendants and the companies in the charge, Joseph Okobieme and Jeff Kadri equally aligned themselves with the submissions of the first and second defendants.

The lawyers also described the EFCC’s letter as a show of arrogance and disrespect to court and lawyers in the case.

They therefore urged the court to refused the letter and dismiss the charge against their clients.

Ruling on the defendants’ lawyers submissions, Justice Kuewumi said the court cannot dismiss the case based on the application.

The judge said the prosecution has the duty to communicate the same letter to defence, he however adjourned the matter till September 13, 2017, for continuation of trial.

The EFCC in a second amended charge marked FHC/337C/16, has alleged that the three accused persons alongside the four companies, between November 13, 2013 and March 31, 2015, conspired with one Sombre Omeibi, who is now at large, to retain the sum of $15. 591, 700, which they reasonably ought to have known to be part of the proceeds of an unlawful act, and thereby committed an offences bordering on money laundering, stealing.

The commission also alleged that the said money was wired through account numbers: 2110002207; 2110002245; 2110002238; 0122493290; 2110002252; domiciled in Skye Bank Plc.

The anti-graft agency had alleged that the accused persons forged Skye bank’s mandate card which were purportedly signed by the purported directors of the companies, namely; Friday Davis, kola Fredrick, Agbo Baro, Taiwo Ebenezer and China John.

The offences according to the EFCC are contrary to sections 18(a) and 15(d), and punishable under section 15(3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.

 

 

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