Patience Jonathan’s $15.5m: Accused persons seek to change guilty plea

A former aide to President Goodluck Jonathan, Waripamo-Owei Dudafa, companies and two other accused persons have asked the court to change the guilty plea of the four companies linked to Mrs Patience Jonathan on $15.591 money laundering charges.

They are seeking to change the guilty plea on the ground that the court has no jurisdiction to take the pleas from the purported directors of the companies.

The four companies: 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, through their purported directors, had pleaded guilty when they were arraigned.

The directors who pleaded guilty on behalf of the four companies are Taiwo Ebenezer (Avalon Property and Investment Development Company Limited), Kola Fredrick (Transoceanic Property and Investment Development Company Limited), Friday Davis (Pluto) and Agbo Baro for Seagate Property and Investment Development Company Limited.

Also charged alongside the companies are a lawyer, Amajuoyi Briggs and a banker, Adedamola Bolodeoku.

At Tuesday’s proceedings, counsel to Dudafa, Mr Gboyega Oyewole, informed the court of pending applications seeking to change the companies’ guilt pleas.

Oyewole informed the court that his client’s application is seeking to set aside the directors’ guilty plea, on the grounds that they had denied having any link with the said companies.

Oyewole informed the court that his client’s application, which was attached with four exhibits, an affidavit, and a written address, was pursuant to section 274, 396, 477 and 478 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2011, and of inherent jurisdiction of the court.

He said taking the guilty plea of the companies would misguide and mislead the court.

However, in pleading the court to discountenance the accused persons applications, the prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, described the applications as ‘strange and a serious violent abuse of court process.”

He added that the applications were aimed to stall the review of the fact of the matter against the four companies, which was the business of the court.

Oyedepo also said the applications are only seeking the court to do the impossible, and therefore urged the court to discountenance the applications alongside the exhibits tendered for not being certified.

The prosecutor said though the companies have right to change their pleas before ruling or judgment is delivered, he added that going by the documents from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and the companies mandate forms from Skye Bank, the purported directors were the ones who were signatories to the companies.

Consequently, the presiding judge, Justice Babs Kuewumi, adjourned till October 7, to rule either to uphold the accused applications or to dismiss it.

The EFCC, in a second amended charge marked FHC/337C/16, alleged that the three accused persons alongside the four companies, 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 form part of the proceeds of an unlawful act.

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