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Wednesday, 5 October 2016

N22.8bn fraud: Read what the Court has to say on ex-NAF chief, Amosu, others’ case


A former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu (retd.), and 10 others being tried for an alleged fraud of N22.8bn have said they are still involved in plea bargain talks with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
One of the defence counsel, Mr. Norrison Quakers (SAN), said this on Tuesday at the resumed proceedings in the case before Justice Mohammed Idris of a Federal High Court in Lagos.
Amosu is being tried alongside two other officers of the Nigerian Air Force – Air Vice Marshal Jacob Adigun and Air Commodore Gbadebo Olugbenga. The trio are standing trial alongside eight companies, namely: Delfina Oil and Gas Limited, Mcallan Oil and Gas Limited, Hebron Housing and Properties Company Limited, Trapezites BDC and Fonds and Pricey Limited.
The former Air Force chief and others were arraigned by the EFCC on 26 counts before Justice Idris.
The charges bordered on conspiracy, stealing and money laundering.
Among other things, the EFCC accused them of conspiring among themselves on March 5, 2014 to convert N21.5bn, belonging to the Nigerian Air Force to their personal use.
The alleged act, according to the EFCC prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, is a violation of Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.
Upon their arraignment on June 26, 2016 the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges, following which Justice Idris admitted Amosu, Adigun and Olugbenga to a bail of N500m each with two sureties in like sum.
But on July 8, 2016, the defence counsel, comprising Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN), Quakers, Mr. Kemi Balogun (SAN), and Mr. A. Etuokwu, informed the court of their clients’ intention to enter plea bargain.
Justice Idris has adjourned further proceedings in the case till October 20, 21 and 24, 2016.
They sought an adjournment to perfect their bail condition and to smoothen their talks with the EFCC.
At the resumed proceedings on Tuesday, the EFCC lawyer, Oyedepo, told the court that he was ready to open his case against the defendants and had already brought two witnesses to court for trial to commence.
Oyedepo said the EFCC had discharged its obligation by serving the proof of evidence on the defendants.
Ayorinde, however, told the court that the matter was only adjourned till Tuesday for mention and that the case could not be heard.
He said the record of the court could bear him witness.
Quakers aligned with Ayorinde, adding that the defendants were still in plea bargain talks with the EFCC.
In a short ruling, Justice Idris said he found from the court’s record that the matter was adjourned for mention and not for trial.
He consequently granted the prayer of the defence counsel for an adjournment.
He adjourned till October 20, 21 and 24, 2016, for trial.

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