Patience Jonathan’s $15.5m: Drama as defendants seek to change pleas
A new twist was added to the ongoing trial of Waripamo-owei Dudafa, a former Special Assistant to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday as four of the defendants who had earlier pleaded guilty sought to change their plea.
The four companies linked to Mrs. Patience Jonathan’s $15.591, 700 million USD, in separate applications filed by the lawyers asked the court to reverse their pleas on the ground that the court lacked jurisdiction to take the pleas of the purported directors of the companies.
The companies are Pluto Property and Investment Development Company Limited, Seagate Property and Investment Development Company Limited, Transoceanic Property and Investment Development Company Limited, and Avalon Property and Investment Development Company Limited.
The purported directors who pleaded guilty on behalf of the four companies are; Taiwo Ebenezer for Avalon Property and Investment Development Company Limited; Kola Fredrick for Transoceanic Property and Investment Development Company Limited; Friday Davis ; and Agbo Baro for Seagate Property and Investment Development Company Limited.
Upon the guilty pleas of the purported directors of the companies, the court adjourned for the review of the matter.
However, at the resumed proceedings on Tuesday, lawyers to Waripamo-owei Dudafa, and a lawyer, Amajuoyi Azubike Briggs, (first, and second accused persons), Mr. Gboyega Oyewole and Tochukwu Onyiuke, informed the trial judge, Justice Babs Kuewumi of various applications seeking to change the companies’ guilty pleas.
Oyewole, informed the court that his client’s application is seeking the set aside of the companies’ directors guilty plea, on the ground that they had denied having any link with the said companies.
He said taking the guilty plea of the companies will amount to misguided, misleading and mischievous. Consequently, urged the court to enter non guilty plea for the companies.
Also, lawyer to the second accused person, Onyiuke informed the court that his client’s application is predicated on the court’s jurisdiction to take the plea of the purported directors of the companies.
Consequently, he urged the court to set aside the guilty plea of the purported directors of the companies.
But, EFCC prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, described the two applications as ‘strange and serious violent abuse of court process’.
He stated that the applications were aimed to stall the review of the fact of the matter against the four companies, which was the business of the court.
Oyedepo also said the applications are only seeking the court to do impossible, and therefore urged the court to discountenance alongside the exhibits tendered for not being certified.
The prosecutor said that though the companies have right to change their pleas before ruling or judgment is delivered but said going by the documents from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), and the companies mandate forms from Skye Bank, the purported directors were the ones who were signatories to the companies.
He added for the purported directors’ signatures and passport photographs to have been affixed in the companies’ forms both at CAC and banks, means that they have the mandate to represent the companies.
He submitted that the applications filed by the accused persons are in bad fate, and aimed to stall the review of the facts of the matter against the companies. He therefore urged to reject it, by dismissing it.
Consequently, the presiding judge, Justice Babs Kuewumi adjourned till October 7, to rule on the applications.
The EFCC 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 they reasonably ought to know forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act, and thereby committed Offences bordering on money laundering, stealing,
The EFCC also alleged that the said money was wired through account numbers: 2110002207; 2110002245; 2110002238; 0122493290; 2110002252; domiciled in Skye Bank Plc.
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