The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has urged the Federal High Court in Lagos to refuse an application by four companies linked to former First Lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan.
The four companies had pleaded guilty to laundering $15,591,700.
The commission 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), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd).
EFCC said Dasuki withdrew the money from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and “handed it” over to Dudafa.
The commission 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 Limited, Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Limited and Avalon Global Property Development Company Limited.
Mrs. Jonathan in a separate suit, is laying claims to the money in the companies’ accounts.
In a fresh motion on notice filed on their behalf by Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), the companies are praying the court to order a reversal of their guilty plea, saying they were not given a fair hearing.
The companies are praying for an order setting aside their conviction by Justice Babs Kuewumi on November 2, 2016.
According to them, their trial and conviction were done “in gross violation of their right to fair hearing.”
They sought an order for a retrial of the case “as the proceedings so far done amounted to nullity, void and unsustainable in law.”
The companies said their conviction “occasioned a miscarriage of justice” to them.
They were represented by their directors when they were arraigned on September 15 last year.
But EFCC in its counter-affidavit deposed to by an investigating officer Musbhau Yahaya, said the companies’ application was an abuse of court process, and that the judge cannot be asked to overrule himself.
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, Dasuki applied to the Governor of CBN via a letter dated November 26, 2014 with reference number NSA/366/S for the release of $47,000,000.
The operative said the money was part of N10billion “earmarked for special services,” adding that it was handed in cash to one 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 office by corruptly enriching himself,” the deponent said.
According to the commission, Dudafa also allegedly deposited “various huge sums of United States 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 would be heard on February 24.
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