Ojukwu Ronald Loses $2.9mn at Appeal Court for Failure to Declare at Airport

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A three-man panel of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, has upheld the conviction and sentencing of Ojukwu Nnamdi Roland, who was charged with a $2,917,272.000 (Two Million, Nine Hundred and Seventeen Thousand, Two Hundred and Seventy-two Dollars) fraud by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. The appellant had been arraigned on October 22, 2015 before Justice I.N. Buba of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos for failure to declare the sum of $2,917,272.000 to officers of the Nigeria Customs Service at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos on October 8, 2015.

The defendant had pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against him, thereby setting the stage for his trial. The prosecution counsel, E.E. Iheancho, had presented three witnesses and tendered several documents that were admitted in evidence during the trial. However, the defendant, who was represented by Prof. Joseph N. Mbadugha, had testified on his own behalf during the trial. In his ruling, Justice Buba found the defendants guilty as charged and sentenced him to two years imprisonment.

The judge also ordered the defendant to forfeit the undeclared sum of $2,917,272 to the Federal Government. Consequently, counsel to the defendant approached the appellate court to set aside the judgment of the lower court. But in a unanimous decision delivered by Justice Ogakwu Okechukwu today, February 15, 2018, the appellate court held that the appeal lacked merit and also affirmed the judgment of the trial court. Wilson Uwujaren Head, Media & Publicity 15 February, 2018 Malabu Oil Scandal: Court Awaits Adoke’s Extradition, Adjourns to June 18 Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court, sitting in Maitama, Abuja, has adjourned to June 18, 2018 for the arraignment of a former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke and eight others over their alleged involvement in the sale of Oil Prospecting License, OPL 245. The others are Dan Etete, a former Minister of Petroleum Resources; Aliyu Abubakar; Ralph Wetzels; Casula Roberto; Pujatti Stefen;, Burrafati Sebestiano and Malabu Oil and Gas Limited.

The defendants are to be prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for their allegedly complicity to defraud the Federal Government to the tune of N1.1billion in a suspicious oil block deal. Specifically, Adoke was said to have played a major role in the fraudulent deal that saw to the transfer of ownership of OPL 245 to two multinational oil companies – Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company and Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited. It would be recall that on April 3, 2017, the EFCC, through its counsel, Johnson Ojogbane, approached the court, requesting to be guided on whether or not to issue an arrest warrant against Adoke “as the former AGF and some of the defendants are residing outside the shores of Nigeria, making the service of writ of summons on them difficult”. But, Justice Tsoho opined that “once a person has been arraigned before a court and is attempting to escape, then it becomes necessary to issue a warrant of arrest. But in this case, Adoke has not been arraigned; the matter is still being investigated”.

The matter was later adjourned to June 13, but again, the arraignment could not hold due to the absence of Adoke in court. It was then adjourned to October 26, 2017. Subsequently, when the matter came up on October 26, 2017, Ojogbane informed the court that “the process of getting the defendants to appear in court to face arraignment has been very cumbersome”. He further assured that “the process would be concluded very soon”. The matter was then adjourned to today. At the resumed sitting, Ojogbane, told the court that the Federal Government is still working hard to ensure the presence of the defendants in court, for their arraignment.

“Our journey so far has been tortuous and very cumbersome. The government continues to work to ensure their presence before this honourable court”, Ojogbane said. He continued: “my lord, in the circumstances, we are asking my lord to graciously grant us a long adjournment to enable us continue the process of extradition which is ongoing. Peradventure we have the defendants before the long date; we will make an appropriate application to breach the time”.

The court granted Ojogbane’s prayer and adjourned. Wilson Uwujaren Head, Media & Publicity 15 February, 2018 Employment Scam:

How I Was Defrauded N5.8m – Witness The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on February 15, 2018 presented its first witness in a case of N5.8million recruitment scam involving one Uju Okoye before Justice Ogbonnaya of FCT High Court sitting in Kubwa, Abuja. The witness, Engr. Amaoche Chinonso, who was led in evidence by Steve Odiase, counsel to the EFCC, narrated how Okoye fraudulently swindled him of N5.8million under the pretext of helping him and his siblings secure a job with the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, where she claimed she worked.

He said: “Early July 2013, I got to know Okoye through her friend who hails from Orji River Local Government of Enugu State, same Local Government as me. Her friend contacted my father informing him about Okoye’s connection. I was contacted and given her phone number and at that point recruitment was genuinely ongoing in NNPC. “She told me that to get the job a payment of N350,000 is needed for a Nigerian candidate and N480,000 for international candidates. I transferred N380,000 to her account and she requested my email address”, Chinonso stated. The witness further told the court that the accused person asked him to run HIV test which he did and sent to her. He added that, he was thereafter sent a pin number and asked to await further directive.

The PW1 also told the court that he was told that there was a window of opportunity for other siblings of him that are interested in such employment and that a total of N5.8million was sent to the woman regarding the employment.

“She further sent several bank accounts number which she asked me to make payments for my siblings. In all, the monies I sent was N5.8million”, he added. According to Chinonso, “Okoye promised to refund in two weeks if any of the candidates choose to pull out. Incidentally, one of my siblings chose to pull out, but no money was refunded and efforts to reach her did not yield result. Hence, I petitioned the EFCC.” Odiase, showed the witness the petition he wrote to the EFCC and other letters sent to him by the accused as letters purportedly from NNPC.

The witness went through the documents and confirmed them as certified true copies of the documents sent by him to the EFCC. The counsel, thereafter, sought to tender the documents in evidence, but its admissibility was objected to by Okoye’s counsel, Obinna Okezie, on the grounds that “the documents did not satisfy the provision of the Evidence Act”.

He urged the court to discountenance the documents. However, Odiase maintained that “there is no need for any proper foundation to be laid for a CTC of any document. He added that “admissibility is one thing, while probative value is another.

“I urge the court to discountenance the objection of the defence and admit the documents”, Odiase submitted. After listening to the submissions of both counsel, Justice Ogbonnaya admitted the documents as exhibits 1, 2 and 3 and adjourned to April 11 – 12, 2018 for cross-examination of PW1.

Wilson Uwujaren
Head, Media & Publicity

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