A bid to secure the overturning of the guilty pleas entered by four firms linked with Mrs Patience Jonathan was dismissed today in Lagos.
Justice Babs Kuewumi of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Friday, October 7, 2016 dismissed two applications brought before it by the former Special Assistant on Domestic Matters to Goodluck Jonathan, Waripam-Owei Emmanuel Dudafa and his co-defendant, Azubuike Briggs on the ground that the applications constituted an abuse of court process.
At the last adjourned date, the 1st and 2nd defendants (Dudafa and Briggs) brought separate applications through their counsels, Gboyega Oyewale and Tochukwu Onyuike asking the court to set aside the “guilty plea” earlier entered by the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th defendants.
Dudafa’s counsel, Oyewale, fears that, the “guilty plea” entered by the four companies would adversely affect them since the proceedings were joint proceedings and the first count bordered on conspiracy.
He also claimed that the purported directors of the companies stated in their statement to EFCC that they had nothing to do with the companies.
Onyiuke, on his part, challenged the jurisdiction and competence of Justice Kuewumi to even entertain the arraignment of the four companies, in the first place.
“The condition precedent to this Honourable Court assuming jurisdiction, to wit: authority to represent the 4th to 7th defendants by their purported representatives further to Section 477(3) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, is completely lacking”, Onyiuke argued.
He said accepting the “guilty plea” of the companies who admitted that they conspired with his client to launder the money would occasion a miscarriage of justice against his client.
Responding, counsel to EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo urged the court to dismiss both applications as it was an abuse of court process at this stage after the court had already assumed jurisdiction and the plea of the defendants had been taken.
According to him, it was too late for the 2nd defendant to challenge the jurisdiction of the court.
Rotimi also called the attention of the court to the statements of accounts from Skye Bank where the $15.5m was kept, showing that Davies, Baro, Fredrick and Ebenezer were the authorized persons with mandate to operate the accounts.
He said the accounts were opened pursuant to documents from the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, where Davies, Baro, Fredrick and Ebenezer were registered as directors in the companies.
“The prima facie evidence before Your Lordship is that those who appeared before Your Lordship are the directors of the 4th to 7th defendants”, Oyedepo submitted.
In his ruling, Justice Keuwumi agreed with the argument of the prosecution that the applications were indeed an abuse of court process and accordingly dismissed same.
The case has been adjourned to November 2, 2016 for trial.