Court fixes Dec 30 to decide fate of Briton, four others over N15bn fraud

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A Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday, fixed December 30 to decide the fate of a Briton, Gareth Wilcox, and four others, charged with N15 billion fraud.

court480Wilcox, a former Managing Director of Ibom Power Company and LYK Engineering Company, is standing trial alongside Prince Johnson Adebami and Uche Uwechia, on a 21-count charge.

Adebami is a former Managing Director of the defunct Gulf Bank Plc, while Uwechia is a former legal adviser to the bank.
Also charged with the accused are Ibom Power Company and LYK Engineering Company, owned by Wilcox.

The trial judge, Justice Mohammed Yunusa, fixed the date after counsel representing the accused had respectively moved their application for the bail of their clients.

Counsel to the first accused, Mr Samuel Oshodi, in adopting his bail application, urged the court to admit the accused to bail on liberal terms.

Oshodi argued that the fundamental right and liberty of the accused were lready at stake, since he had been detained at the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) for over 20 days.

Citing the provisions of Section 118 (2) of the Criminal Procedure Act, and Sections 35 and 41 of the Constitution, Oshodi argued that the presumption of innocence enshrined in the law, still availed the accused.
He,  therefore, urged the court to grant them bail.

Counsel representing the other accused, Mr Martin Liadi and Mr Daniel Ade-Peters, also aligned themselves with the submissions of the first defence counsel.

Responding, to the argument for bail, the Prosecutor, Mr Dania Abdullahi, adopted his counter affidavit and urged the court to exercise its discretion in determining the application for bail.

He noted that the amount stated in the charge was monumental, adding that operatives of the SFU experienced great difficulties, in securing the arrest of Wilcox.

Abdulahi, therefore, left the issue of bail to the discretion of the court.

Justice Yunusa, adjourned the case till Dec. 30 for ruling on the bail application, but ordered the continued remand of the accused at the SFU.

The News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, reports that the accused were arraigned on Dec. 23, following the charge of fraud and had pleaded not guilty.

The judge, however, ordered their remand at the SFU, pending the determination of their bail.

Abdulahi had told the court that the accused converted more than N15 billion from the defunct bank, in the guise of granting loans and overdraft facilities to various companies, without appropriate accounting records.

He said that they also converted and appropriated a total of 55.3 million dollars and more than N3.7billion belonging to the bank.
He said that part of the money was used to finance a non-existing refinery, while the others where converted to personal use.

Abdulahi explained that the offence contravened the provisions of Section 390 of the Criminal Code, Cap A6, Laws of the Federation, 2006.

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