Patience Jonathan’s $15m: EFCC Urges Federal High Court To Ignore Firms
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has urged the Federal High Court in Lagos to refuse an application by four companies praying to reverse their guilty plea to laundering $15,591,700 .
In its counter-affidavit deposed to by an investigating officer Musbhau Yahaya, the commission said the application was an abuse of court process, and that the judge cannot be asked to overrule himself.
The companies are praying for an order setting aside their conviction by Justice Babs Kuewumi on November 2, 2016 after they pleaded guilty through their representatives.
According to them, their trial and conviction were done “in gross violation of their right to fair hearing”.
The companies, in the application filed on their behalf by Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), said their conviction “occasioned miscarriage of justice” to them.
EFCC, in the counter-affidavit, alleged that a former Special Adviser on Domestic Affairs to President Jonathan, Waripamo Dudafa, allegedly got part of the money from former National Security Adviser (NSA) Sambo Dasuki.
EFCC said Dasuki withdrew the money from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and “handed it” over to Dudafa.
The commissioner said Dudafa laundered the money through the companies. He is currently being tried along with a lawyer Amajuoyi Briggs and a banker Adedamola Bolodeoku. They pleaded not guilty.
But, the four companies charged along with them pleaded guilty to money laundering charges and were convicted.
They are Pluto Properties and Investment Company Limited, Seagate Property Development and Investment Ltd, Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Ltd and Avalon Global Property Development Company Ltd.
Wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Dame Patience, in a separate suit, is laying claims to the money.
On what led to the companies’ conviction, Yahaya said sometime in 2015, the EFCC received “cogent and irresistible” intelligence that Dudafa allegedly “warehoused” proceeds of unlawful activities in the companies’ Skye Bank Plc accounts.
The operative said EFCC analysed the intelligence and discovered that on November 26, 2014, former National Security Adviser (NSA) Sambo Dasuki applied to the Governor of Central of Nigeria (CBN) via a letter dated November 26, 2014 with reference number NSA/366/S for the release of $47,000,000.00.
The operative said the money was part of N10billion “earmarked for special services,” adding that it was handed in cash to Mr S. A. Salihu, a director of finance and administration at the Office of the NSA.
“The governor of CBN granted this request and delivered the sum to Salisu as instructed by Dasuki. Upon receipt of the said sum, Salisu handed over this money to his boss, Dasuki, in 11 suitcases.
“Dasuki in grand conspiracy with the first defendant (Dudafa) handed over the money to the first defendant.
“In the course of his service as the Special Assistant to the former President on Domestic Affairs, the first defendant abused his officer by corruptly enriching himself,” the deponent said.
According to the commission, Dudafa also allegedly deposited “various huge sums of US dollars in cash” in the companies’ accounts.
“In a bid to disguise and conceal the proceeds of his unlawful activities, the fourth to seventh applicants (the companies) were procured mainly to retain the proceeds of the first defendant’s unlawful activities.”
“The fourth to seventh applicants each opened an account with Skye Bank Plc,” the deponent said in the counter-affidavit.
EFCC said those who pleaded guilty on the companies’ behalf were actually their directors, namely Friday Davis, Agbor Baro, Bioghowori Fredrick and Taiwo Ebenezer.
According to the commission, after prosecuting counsel Rotimi Oyedepo reviewed the case following the companies’ plea, the judge asked the representatives if they were in agreement with the facts.
“The representatives who are directors of the applicants admitted unequivocally that they agreed with facts reviewed by the prosecution.
“Upon a calm reflection of the evidence led by the prosecution against the fourth to seventh defendants/applicants and the pleas of their directors who represented them, this Honourable Court found the applicants guilty and convicted them as charged,” the commission said.
EFCC said the companies’ application was an abuse of court process and was filed in bad faith, adding that the court had become functus officio (cannot re-open the case).
The prosecution said the companies filed a Notice of Contention at the Court of Appeal in which they sought an order varying the guilty plea, but it was struck out.
EFCC said the companies were yet to appeal against the Court of Appeal judgment.
“The conviction of the fourth to seventh defendants did not occasion any miscarriage of justice to the applicants or any party in this proceeding,” EFCC said.
The companies’ motion on notice is yet to be heard.