Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Court Fixes May 10 For trial Of Dudafa Over $15m Alleged Fraud

Justice Babs Kuewumi of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, has admitted as evidence some documents tendered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in a $15 million fraud charge preferred against a former special assistant on Domestic Affairs to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Warpamo Dudafa and six others.

Dudafa is facing trial over an alleged $1 million fraud NAIJ.com learnt that Dudafa is charged alongside Amajuoyi Briggs and Adedamola Bolodeokua on a 15-count charge bordering on conspiracy and fraud. Four companies: Pluto Properties and Investment Company, Seagate Property Development Company, Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Limited and Avalon Global Property Limited are also charged with him. An EFCC statement obtained says that at the resumed hearing today, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, tendered some bank documents in respect of the account details of the four companies.

The documents, which were tendered through the prosecution witness, PW1, Obiako Uche, a staff of Skye Bank Plc, were admitted in evidence as exhibits. Thereafter, the defence counsel, Mike Ozekhome, pleaded with the court for an adjournment to enable his clients (the four companies) get what he described as ‘‘fair representation.’’ In his argument, however, Oyedepo urged the court to decline the prayer, adding that Ozekhome should have informed other parties in the matter at least two days before today’s proceedings since he was making his first representation in the alleged criminal matter.

Oyedepo further drew the attention of the court to the fact that the directors of the companies had earlier denied knowledge of Ozekhome representing the companies. He also submitted that the application for adjournment was ‘‘unmeritorious on the grounds that the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh accused persons have been convicted.’’ He therefore urged the court to strike out the application for adjournment sought by Ozekhome , saying: ‘‘It is baseless and not in the interest of justice.’’ In his response, Ozekhome told the court that it was not compulsory to inform the prosecution two days before representing his clients.

He also told the court that the constitution guarantees an accused person(s) the right to change his or her counsel at anytime. He further submitted that the fact that the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh accused persons were convicted did not mean the end of the case and that they were neither sentenced not represented. Justice Kuewumi adjourned the matter to May 10 2017 for continuation of trial. The companies had, on September 15, 2016, pleaded guilty to laundering the money when they were arraigned alongside the other accused.