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Money laundering: Lawyers fight over representation of Patience Jonathan’s firms

By Onozure Dania

Lagos—THERE was drama, yesterday, at the Federal High Court, presided by Justice Babs Kuewumi, as two lawyers fought over the representation of the  four firms that pleaded guilty to laundering $15.5 million belonging to Dame Patience Jonathan.

Ex First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan

The companies through their representatives had  pleaded guilty  September 15  and were convicted for laundering the money when they were arraigned in a criminal charge before Justice Kuewumi.

They admitted laundering the money allegedly belonging to wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Dame Patience.

The companies are Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited (represented by Friday Davis), Seagate Property Development and Investment Company Limited (represented by Agbor Baro), Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Limited (represented by Dioghowori Frederick) and Avalon Global Property Development Limited (represented by Taiwo Ebenezer).

The anti-graft agency arraigned them with former Special Adviser on Domestic Affairs to President Jonathan, Waripamo Dudafa, a lawyer, Amajuoyi Briggs and a banker, Adedamola Bolodeoku.

Dudafa, Briggs and Bolodeoku had pleaded not guilty to the 17-count charge during their arraignment.

Meanwhile, the law firm, Chief Mike Ozekhome Chambers, had on May 8,  filed an application on the companies’ behalf seeking to set aside the guilty plea.

Besides the application filed by Ozekhome Chambers, another motion to set aside the guilty plea was filed by Briggs, the companies’ secretary, through his lawyer Ige Asemudara.

But the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, also filed a counter affidavit opposing the application.

At the resumed hearing of the case yesterday, Chimaobi Onuigbo, who stood in for Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), said he was served with the prosecution’s counter affidavit on Tuesday.

He sought an adjournment to enable the companies respond.

But another lawyer, Luke Aghanenu, also appeared for the same companies, claiming he was engaged by the companies’ director  as their authentic counsel.

According to him, he was the one who ought to speak on the companies’ behalf, not Onuigbo.

But, Onuigbo said Ozekhome Chambers was engaged by Briggs to represent the companies, noting that Ozekhome had been appearing for the companies,.

According to him, he was surprised by the new counsel’s appearance, describing Aghanenu as an “interloper”, arguing that  he should have filed a proper application.

There were heated arguments between the two, before  Justice Kuewumi asked Aghanenu to file a formal notice of appearance as the companies’ representatives.

Asemudara said he was also served with EFCC’s counter affidavit on Tuesday.

Dudafa’s lawyer Gboyega Oyewole (SAN) said he was not served.

“As long as we’re involved in these proceedings we are entitled to be served,” he said.

 

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