May 8, 2018

Absence of EFCC’s witness stalls N1.7bn fraud trial of FirstNation boss

Ikeja – The absence of a witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday stalled the N1.7 billion fraud trial of Kayode Odukoya, the Managing Director of FirstNation Airline.

FirstNation Airways CEO, Kayode Odukoya, middle, charged with fraud

FirstNation Airline and Bellview Airline are joined as second and third defendants in the suit before an Ikeja Special Offences Court.

At the resumption of proceedings on Monday, Mrs Zainab Ettu, the EFCC Prosecutor, informed the court that the first prosecution witness was absent.

“We regret to inform the court that we are not prepared.

“The first prosecution witness that we were supposed to call was outside Lagos as at yesterday.

“I was in the office till 6.00 pm and he was not yet in Lagos. He is in town today but I told him not to bother.

“When I knew we could not go on today, I sent the defence a message,” she said.

Responding, Mr Olawale Akoni (SAN), Odukoya’s lawyer, expressed disappointment with the development.

“I got a message from the prosecution, I find this development a bit strange but I would not be commenting,” he said.

Akoni, in his submission, also told the court that the defence had filed a notice of preliminary objection dated April 30 opposing the suit.

Odukoya, through is lawyers, is seeking two orders: an order striking out the charge and an order discharging the defendants of the charges filed against them by the EFCC.

The grounds on which the preliminary objection are filed are that the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the charge with n0. ID/239C/2012 and that the charge contravenes Sections 77, 249 and 252 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL).

According to the defence, Section 249 of the ACJL stipulates that the prosecutorial authority before the High Court of Lagos State shall be exercised only in the name of “The State of Lagos”.

The defence via the preliminary objection is also claiming that the information contained in the charge is incompetent and that charge is an abuse of court process.

NAN reports that the EFCC alleged that Odukoya committed the offences of forgery, use of false document and perjury on March 21, 2013.

According to the prosecution, the defendants forged a Memorandum of Loss of a Lagos State Certificate of Occupancy registered as No. 33 at page 33 volume 1011 at the Lagos State Land Registry, Alausa, Ikeja, in order that the document be acted upon as genuine.

The forged document was in respect of a property located at No. 29, Oduduwa St., Ikeja GRA, Lagos.

Odukoya is also alleged by the EFCC to have used the false document and also gave false information on oath, concerning the loss of the certificate of occupancy at the Lagos State Land Registry.

The anti-graft commission also said that on Oct. 7, 2016, Odukoya stole and dishonestly converted to his own use N1.7 billion belonging to Skye Bank.

The offences violated Sections 85, 86(1), 278 (1), (b), 285, 361 (1),(a), (b), 363 and 364 (1) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011.

Justice Mojisola Dada adjourned the case until May 21 for continuation of trial. (NAN)