Judge Returns Ex-President Jonathan’s Aide, Dudafa, Others’ $15.5m Fraud Case File To Chief Judge
Justice Bab Kuewumi of a Federal High Court, Lagos, has returned the $15.591, 700 million fraud case file of involving Dr. Waripamo-owei Emmanuel Dudafa, a former Senior Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan and others, to the Court’s Chief Judge.
The judge returning the case to the Court’s Chief Judge was sequel to an application by the prosecuting agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seeking the CJ’s ‘Fiat’ to allow Justice Kuewumi to continue hearing the matter.
Dudafa is charged in the alleged fraud alongside a lawyer, Amajuoyi Azubuike Briggs, and a senior staff of Skye Bank Plc, Adedamola Bolodeoku.
Also facing financial fraud charge are four limited companies: Pluto Property Development Company Limited; Seagate Property Development Company Limited, Transocean Property Development Company Limited, and Avalon Property Development Company Limited, which were allegedly used as conduit pipe by the former First lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan.
In between the trial of the defendants, the Justice Kuewumi was moved out of Lagos Division, hence, caused the EFCC to write a letter to the Court’s Chief judges, to allow the trial judge handle the case file till conclusion.
The defendants were first arraigned before Justice Kuewumi led-court on September 15, 2016, wherein the court companies through their supposed directors, who are: Agbo Michael Baro, Friday Davis, Kola Frederick, Taiwo Ebenezer and Chima John pleaded guilty to the charges.
However, the court companies’ directors through their various counsel on September 27, 2016, applied to court for change of guilty plea, the applications was vehemently opposed by the prosecting agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Justice Kuewumi had on October 7, 2016, dismissed the various applications filed for the change of guilty plea. While convicted the court companies of the allegations of conspiracy, money laundering, stealing and fraud, on November 2, 2016.
However, the companies through their lawyers had appealed the conviction.
At the resumed trial of Dr. Dudafa, Bolodeoku and Briggs, last week, the EFCC counsel, U. U Buhari, told the court that he was informed by the prosecution’s lead counsel, Rotimi Oyepedo, of their agency’s letter to the Court’s Chief Judge for ‘fiat’, to enable Justice Kuewumi continue with the trial of the charge, since he has been moved out of Lagos division of the court.
He added that they are still awaiting Chief Judge’s respond to the letter.
In the same vain, Counsel to Dr. Dudafa, Mr. Ademola Adefolaju, who stood in for Mr. Gboyega Oyewole (SAN), apologized for the absence of his client, Dudafa, whom he said was absent due to his current abode and health, Bayelsa State.
Adefolaju said: “My lord, I apologized for the absence of my client, Dr. Dudafa. We were informed of today’s sitting yesterday and when we called to inform him, he said he could not make as he was ‘strong’ health wise. We sincerely apologized sir”.
Following the submission of the prosecting counsel, Justice Kuewumi said: “the case file is hereby remit to the registry pending fiat”.
The EFCC had alleged in a second amended charge marked FHC/337C/16, 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 them reasonably ought to have know forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act, and thereby committed Offences bordering on money laundering, stealing and fraud.
They were also alleged to have wired the monies 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 Chima John.
The EFCC said the offences are contrary to sections 18(a) and 15(d), and punishable under section s15(3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.