N15bn Fraud: Dispute Over Legal representation Stalls Trial Of Ex-Gulf Bank MD, 8 Others

N15bn Fraud: Dispute Over Legal Representation Stalls Trial of Ex-Gulf Bank MD, 8 Others

The scheduled re-arraignment of the former Managing Director of the defunct Gulf Bank Plc, Prince Johnson Adekunle Adeyeba, and others over alleged N15, 761,176.24 billion fraud, before a Lagos Federal High Court, was stalled today, due to the conflicts that ensued between counsel to prosecute the charge. 

While Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) announced his appearance as prosecutor, another lawyer, Vivian Aibagbon, a Principal State Counsel, from the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), also announced her appearance as prosecutor for the case.

Jacobs (SAN) told the court that he was in his office few days ago, when he received ‘fiat’ issued from the AGF’s office to prosecute the matter. While thelawyer from AGF’s office, also told the court that she was sent from the AGF’s office to request for two weeks adjournment, to review the charges against the defendants and to know the next step to take.

Following the development, Mr. Jacobs (SAN) asked the court for adjournment to enable the prosecution to put it’s house in order.

Consequently, by the counsel’s agreement, Justice Osiagor adjourned till February 2, for the arraignment of all the defendants in the charge.

Prince Adeyeba, a Briton, Gareth Marvyn Wilcox, the Managing Director of Ibom Power Company; and a lawyer, Mr. Uche Uwechia, who was the former Legal Advisor to the defunct Gulf Bank Plc, and others now at large, were brought before the court  in a charge marked FHC/L/497c/2013.

Others are: Babajide Rogers; Ignatius Ukpaka; John Ezugwu and three Limited liability companies: Ibom Power Company; Lyk Engineering Company and Taurus Shelters Limited. 

They were alleged to have between April 1, 2001; December 24, 2002; August 8, 2003 and some other dates, fraudulently used their various positions to convert the sum of N15, 761,176.24 to fund their private businesses.

The defendants were alleged to have used thier position to defraud the defunct bank of the said amount to fund the Briton’s companies, while the two of them were also alleged to have used the money to purchase a vessel and finance a none existing refinery.

Particularly, Prince Adeyeba was also alleged to have fraudulently converted as his personal property two landed properties at Plot 22 and 23 Zone K, Federal Government Layout, Banana Island, Lagos, with Certificate of Occupancy numbers: 27/27/96 and 7/7/96 dated 20 June, 2003, belonging to the defunct bank.

The lawyer, Mr. Uche Uwechia, was alleged to have aided the former bank manager to convert the said land to his personal properties. The value of the land is said to be N600 million.

The offences according to the AGF are contrary to section 15(1)(c) (2) and (3) of the failed banks (recovery of debt) and financial malpractices in banks act Cap F2,2010 and punishable under section 16(1), (2),18(1)(2) and 19(4)of the failed banks (recovery of debt and Financial Malpractices.

The defendants were first arraigned before Justice Ibrahim Yunusa, sometimes in 2020, on a 21-count charge of Conspiracy, fraud and illegal conversion of fund of the sum of N15, 761, 176. 24 billion.

Upon compulsory retirement of Justice Yunusa from the Bench, the defendants’ charge was transferred to Justice Rilwan Aikawa.

Justice Osiagor inherited the case file upon transfer of Justice Aikawa to the another jurisdisction of the court.