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Court dismisses applications seeking to change guilty plea of companies linked to Patience Jonathan

A Federal High Court sitting  in Lagos, on Friday, dismissed two applications seeking to change the guilty plea of four companies linked to Patience Jonathan’s controversial $15.5 million.

Justice Babs Kuewumi dismissed the applications describing them as an abuse of court process.

The two applications were by filed Gboyega Oyewole and Tochukwu Onyunke, lawyers to the two principal accused persons in the alleged fraud, Waripamo-owei Dudafa and a lawyer, Amajuoyi Azubike Briggs, on behalf of the four companies, namely; Pluto Property and Investment Development Company Limited, Seagate Property and Investment Development Company Limited, Transoceanic Property and Investment Development Company Limited, and Avalon Property and Investment Development Company Limited.

The applications had challenged the court’s jurisdiction to take the plea of the companies through their purported directors, and also wanted the court to reverse the guilty plea of the purported directors of the companies.

Dismissing the two applications, Justice Kuewumi ruled that since the applicants had approached the Court of Appeal for adjudication on Section 477 and 478 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), which was the same issue they are asking his court to  determine on the matter, the step taken by the accused persons is abuse of court process.

Justice Kuewumi consequently dismissed the two applications before him, and adjourned till November 2, for the trial of the accused persons.

It would be recalled that the purported directors of the four companies, Taiwo Ebenezer for Avalon Property and Investment Development Company Limited; Kola Fredrick for Transoceanic Property and Investment Development Company Limited; Friday Davis and Agbo Baro for Seagate Property and Investment Development Company Limited,  all pleaded guilty on behalf of the companies to the fraud charges leveled against them.

Upon the guilty plea of the purported directors of the companies, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), through its lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, had urged the court to adjourn for commencement of trial.

The three accused persons, Waripamo-owei Dudafa, Briggs, and Skye Bank’s Head E-Banking, Adedamola Bolodeoku, alongside the four companies, in a second amended charge marked FHC/337C/16, were alleged to have between November 13, 2013 and March 31, 2015, conspired with one Sombre Omeibi, who is now at large, to retain the sum of $15. 591, 700, which them reasonably ought to have know formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act, and thereby committed offences bordering on money laundering, stealing,

The EFCC also alleged that the said money was wired through account numbers: 2110002207; 2110002245; 2110002238; 0122493290; 2110002252; domiciled in Skye Bank Plc.

The anti-graft agency also alleged that the accused persons forged Skye bank’s mandate card which were purportedly signed by the purported directors of the companies, namely; Friday Davis, kola Fredrick, Agbo Baro, Taiwo Ebenezer and China John.

The offences according to the EFCC are contrary to sections 18(a) and 15(d), and punishable under section s15(3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.