Honourable Justice Babs Kuewumi of the Federal High Court, sitting in Ikoyi Lagos has declared four companies guilty for retaining the proceeds of fraud to the tune of $15.6m. Their sentences will however be suspended until the end of trial.
The companies, which were used by a former special adviser on domestic affairs to ex-President Jonathan, Waripamo-Owei Emmanuel Dudafa, to conceal and retain proceeds of crime, are Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited, Seagate Property Development and Investment Company Limited, Transocean Property and Investment Company Limited and Avalon Global Property Development Company.
Consequent to the previous ruling and adjournment for further hearing, prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo asked to continue with the review of facts of the case.
“By the amended charge dated 14 September 2016, the prosecution alleged against the 4th to 7th defendants, a case of conspiracy to c9ommit an offence to wit retaining the total sum of $15,591,700.
In count 2, the 4th defendant, Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited was alleged to have retained the total sum of $1,094,500 between the 14th and 19th of November 2014. I refer your Lordship to count 2 of our charge.
In count 3, it was also alleged against the 4th defendant that the company retained the sum of $1,200,000 between the 21st of January and the 19th of November 2014. I refer your Lordship to count 3 of the amended charge.
In count 4, it was also alleged against the 4th defendant that the company retained $1,394,700. The account that was used for the retention in counts two to four is account number 2110002207 domiciled in Skye Bank Plc.
In count 5, it was alleged that the 6th defendant, Transocean Property and Investment Company Limited between 21st February and 19th November 2014, the company retained proceeds of crime in the sum of $1,897,600 through a Skye Bank account number 2110002245.
Still on the 6th defendant, it was alleged in count 6 that the company, between the 10th day of February 2015 and the 20th day of May 2015 that the company retained proceeds of crime in the sum of $1,839,900 through account number 2110002245 domiciled in Skye Bank Plc.
In relation to the 4th defendant (Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited), it was alleged in counts 7 and 8 that between 21st February and 19th November 2014, the company retained proceeds of crime in the sum of $1,895,400 through account number 2110002238 domiciled in Skye Bank Plc.
In count 8, it was alleged against the 4th defendant that between the 10th February and 20th May 2015, the company fraudulently retained proceeds of crime in the sum of $1,200,000 through account number 2110002238.
The 7th defendant was alleged, in count 9 to have retained the sum of $250,000 on the 28th of May 2015 through account number 0122493290 domiciled in Wema Bank Plc.
In proving counts 1-9 against the 4th to 7th defendants, it is the case of the prosecution that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, received an intelligence report showing vividly that the 4th to 7th defendants are retaining the proceeds of crime. The Commission proceeded to investigate the intelligence report after a thorough analysis of the said report. This led the Commission to enquire from Skye Bank Plc, to forward to the Commission, the account documentations of the 4th, 5th and 6th defendants.
Skye Bank graciously replied by forwarding the mandate card and other account opening related documents together with the statemments of account in relation to the accounts of the 4th, 5th and 6th defendants.”
Prosecuting counsel, Rotimi .O, sought to tender the documents in evidence. Counsels to the first, second and third defendants, Gbenga Oyewole, Ige Asemudara, and Joseph Okodieme opposed the prosecution on the grounds of admissibility. They opined that each of the 11 counts against the defendants directly mentions all the defendants therefore the 4th to 7th defendants cannot be severed as it is a “joint trial”.
Counsel to the second defendant, Ige Asemudara told the court that the four companies were incorporated by the second defendant, Mr. Amajuoyi, Azubuike Briggs who is also the companies’ secretary and that the document will affect his client if the court takes it into evidence to convict the companies.
Opposing counsels sought for an adjournment in order to allow them time to fully addresss the court on the matter.
R.Oyedepo in his submission stated that by section 273 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, a defendant pleading “not guilty” is deemed as putting him/her-self up for trial and the
onus is on the prosecution to call witnesses and prove its case. This cannot be done through review of facts, it must come through full trial, he said. Oyedepo urged his Lordship to discountenance the submissions of the defense counsels and also strike out the names of the first, second and third defendants in count 1.
Justice Kuewumi ruled that the documents be admitted only against the 4th to 7th defendants.
Prosecuting counsel continued with the review of facts, stating that the EFCC also retrieved the original account opening documentation in relation to the accounts of the 4th to 7th defendants. The documents were also tendered in evidence.
The case was adjourned to the 14th of December 2016 for continuation of trial.