The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Lagos Zonal office, on Wednesday, arraigned an Assistant Commissioner of Police and three other officers before Justice Sherifat Solebo of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, following their alleged involvement in stealing of N1.3bn.
The suspects: Ifeoma Okpalugo, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, ACP, (rtd); Olumide Odumosu, Suleiman Yusuf Tegina and Helen Nwafor were arraigned on a 14-count charge of felony and theft of N1, 301, 334, 108.00.
The suspects were charged alongside Yus Investment Nigeria Limited and Olivia Osmond Nigeria Limited for allegedly diverting N1,301, 334, 108.00 belonging to the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, to their personal use. At the last sitting on November 1, 2018, when they were scheduled to be arraigned, the third defendant, Helen Nwafor, told the court that she did not understand English.
She had, therefore, requested someone to interprete the charges preferred against her in Igbo, which is her native language. Consequently, the Judge had adjourned the matter to Wednesday and remanded the defendants in prison custody. At the resumed hearing of the matter on Wednesday, the court engaged one Ogamba Consilia, to interprete the charges in Igbo to the third defendant.
However, Nwafor recanted her earlier statement, saying she understood the count and would take her plea in English. In view of this, one of the lawyers to the defendants, O. A. Osinfowora, moved an application seeking the order of the court to discharge the interpreter while the prosecuting lawyer, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, did not object to the application.
One of the counts reads: “That you, Ogbadu Joseph (now at Large), Hassan Paiko Muhammed (now at large), Sule Yusuf Tegina, Olumide Odumosu, Helen Nwafor, Okpalugo Ifeoma, Olu Osmond Nigeria Limited and Jemmy Yus Investment Nigeria Limited, sometime in 2013 in Nigeria, conspired amongst yourselves to commit felony, to wit: stealing of the sum of N1, 301, 334, 108.00 property of the Nigeria Police Force.” The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against them.
In view of their pleas, Oyedepo prayed the court for an accelerated hearing of the case. He also prayed for a very short date for the commencement of trial. Osinfowora later informed the court of a pending application for bail dated October 19, 2018. But in his response, Oyedepo urged the court to refuse the bail application of the defendants. Consequently, Justice Solebo adjourned the matter to November 20, 21 and 22, 2018 for ruling on bail application and commencement of trial.