A FEDERAL High Court sitting in Lagos, yesterday, adjourned the ruling on a motion on notice seeking to set aside the guilty plea of four firms allegedly used to siphon the sum of $15.5 million owned by former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, to November 22.
Justice Babs Kuewumi fixed the date after listening to the submissions of defendants’ counsel.
The motion was filed by a lawyer, Amajuoyi Azubuike Briggs, who is standing trial alongside Waripamo-Owei Dudafa, an aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan and one, Adedamola Bolodeoku for allegedly concealing the total sum of $15,591,700.00 which they knew formed part of the proceed of an unlawful act, through various banks in Nigeria.
The firms: Pluto Property and Investment Company Ltd, Seagate Property Development and Investment Company Limited, Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Limited and Avalon Global Property Development Company, pleaded guilty through their representatives.
They were represented by Friday Davies, Agbor Baro, Dioghowori Frederick and Taiwo Ebenezer, respectively.
The four firms were later convicted on the alleged offence following the review of the facts of the case by the prosecution.
The Court of Appeal, in its judgement on June 15, 2017, directed the lower court to hear Briggs’ motion seeking to reverse the firm’s plea.
Dudafa and Briggs had filed separate applications seeking to reverse the plea at the court. The applications were, however, dismissed by Justice Kuewumi on the ground that the same issues were being canvassed by the defendants at the Court of Appeal.
At the resumed hearing of the matter, yesterday, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC’s, lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, sought the court’s permission to continue with the examination-in-chief of the first prosecution witness. The request was, however, opposed by the defence lawyers.
Particularly, Briggs’ lawyer, Ige Asemudara, drew the court’s attention to the Appeal Court’s judgement, which ordered the hearing of his client’s motion challenging the guilty plea of the four firms.
He also disclosed that he had filed another motion seeking to set aside the conviction of the four firms. In his submissions, lawyer representing the four firms, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, informed the court of the existence of a motion he filed since May 8, 2017, seeking to set aside the guilty plea of the firms.
Lawyers to the other defendants, Gboyega Oyewole, SAN, and Joseph Okodieme also spoke against the matter proceeding to trial.
After listening to the submissions of parties in the matter, Justice Kuewumi opted to hear Briggs motion as directed by the Court of Appeal.
In his response, EFCC’s lawyer, Oyedepo, pleaded with the court to rely on its record with regard to the service of the charge on the directors of the firms as well as their appearances before the court.