Trial of Fayose’s ally: Court chides Ozekhome over delay
…Court admits more evidence against Nyako in N29bn fraud trial
A Federal High Court in Abuja has frowned at the conduct of a defence lawyer in the trial of Abiodun Agbele, an aide to Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose.
Agbele is charged alongside a former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro (who was arraigned in absentia), Sylvan Mcnamara Limited, A. O. Adewale, Tunde Oshinowo and Olalekan Ogunseye on 11-count charge in which they are accused of laundering about N1.2 billion.
The money is said to be part of the N4.7billion allegedly transferred from the imprest account of the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), to the bank account of Sylvan McNamara, a company allegedly owned by Obanikoro’s son.
At the last proceedings on May 24, 2017 the court ordered Agbele’s lawyer, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), who had applied orally to withdraw appearance for the second defendant – Sylvan McNamara – to file a formal application to that effect within three days and serve copies on other parties in the case.
Yesterday, Ozekhome was absent, but sent a junior, Godwin Iyinbor, who informed the court that his principal were yet to serve the application as ordered by the court.
An infuriated lead prosecution lawyer, Wahab Shittu said: “this is a calculated attempt by the learned silk (Ozekhome) to frustrate the trial process and it should be discouraged”.
Shittu described the development as unhealthy. He noted that the prosecution has consistently produced its witnesses to court at great cost.
Another defence lawyer, Olalekan Ojo also wrote the court that he was attending an interview for the award of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) slated for Monday and Tuesday at the Supreme Court and sought for an adjournment.
Trial judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba granted Ojo’s application, but frowned at Ozekhome’s conduct.
He ordered service of the application by Ozekhome on parties before the next adjourned date and adjourned to October 12 and 13, 2017.
Meanwhile, Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja yesterday admitted in evidence documents tendered by the prosecution in the trial of a former governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako.
Nyako is standing trial on a 37-count charge of conspiracy, stealing, abuse of office and money laundering to the tune of N29billion. He is being tried with his son, Senator Abdul-Aziz Nyako, Abubakar Aliyu and Zulkifikk Abba.
Companies that allegedly served as conduit pipes for the illegal diversion of the funds are – Pagoda Fortunes Limited, Tower Assets Management Limited and Crust Energy Limited.
One of the documents tendered by the prosecution yesterday, through the 12th prosecution witness, Caroline Utsaha, showed that N80million deposit was made in a day in the name of Blue Opal Limited; one of the companies allegedly used by the former governor to siphon the state funds.
The documents tendered and admitted in evidence include: Letter dated July 21, 2014, captioned “Re-Investigation Activities”, with the account name – Blue Opal Limited – Exhibit H1.
Letter dated August 15, 2014, captioned “Re-Investigation Activities”, with the account name – Opal Corporate Limited – Exhibit H2.
Letter dated February 26, 2015, captioned “Re-Investigation Activities”, with the account name – Crust Energy Limited, and was admitted as Exhibit H3.
Led in evidnce by lead prosecuting lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), Utsaha, a Relationship Manager with First Bank said: “In 2014, the EFCC wrote our Bank, requesting for details of the accounts packages and statements of accounts of three accounts.
“The accounts were: Blue Opal Limited, Opal Corporate Limited and Crust Energy Limited. I got all they requested and did a forwarding letter to the Commission and also did an identification letter, indicating that the statements and all the documents are from First Bank.”
When asked to look at Exhibit H1 and tell the court about the transactions therein, the witness said, “The entries here are series of deposits of Zenith bank cheque”.
She went on: “On March 29, 2012, there were eight deposits of Zenith bank cheque of N10million each. The deposits were done on the same day”.
Justice Abang later adjourned to July 4, 2017 for the continuation of hearing.
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