Disagreement between the counsel representing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Office of the Attorney- General of Federal (AGF), has stalled arraignment of suspects indicted over alleged multi-billion fraud that rocked the Consolidated Discount House Limited.
The counsel were at logger head over who to prosecute the suspects.
One of the counsel, A. B. Ozioko, from EFCC, brought the suspects to court from the commission’s custody.
After announcing appearance for the prosecution, he informed Justice Mohammed Idris that the matter was for arraignment.
But another counsel, D. C. Enwelum, also announced appearance for the prosecution. He said he was authorised by a fiat issued by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) to prosecute the case.
Ozioko said his understanding was the EFCC, and not the AGF, would handle the case.
Justice Idris said the issue of who has the authority to prosecute the suspects must be sorted out before they are arraigned.
Three separates charges were filed against the suspects.
In the first charge, the complainant, Federal Republic of Nigeria, alleged that between January 1 and December 31, 2007, the accused persons agreed among themselves to defraud Consolidated Discounts Limited by granting loans to Falcon Securities Limited, a company owned by Ololo, without proper documentation.
They allegedly converted N43.9billion being funds belonging to Consolidated Discount in contravention of Section 15 (2) and 15 (3) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2012.
In the second charge, Akinterotoye and defrauded the company in the guise of granting loans to the fourth to seventh defendants and converted various sums, such as N520milion, N303million and N600million.
The prosecution said investigations revealed that Consolidated Discount had already paid for the vessels before the dates of the various applications for loan made by the fourth to seventh accused persons.
In the third charge, the prosecution said the defendants, as employees of Consolidated Discount House, committed an act of fraud by converting N915.7million belonging to Consolidated Discount.
Shittu (as Managing Director) and Gbenga (as Financial Controller), between March 2012 and June 2013, allegedly transferred N1.6billion from Consolidated Discount’s Union Bank Plc account, numbered 0033295449, to various companies belonging to them.
Ozioko applied that the suspects be remanded in EFCC custody to guarantee their attendance in court at the next date.
“We apply that they be kept in EFCC custody. That is the only way we can guarantee their production,” he said.
But defence counsel, including Osaro Eghobamien (SAN), said the suspects had been on administrative bail.
According to them, their clients were detained when they responded to EFCC’s summons on Monday.
Justice Idris ordered that parties maintain status quo ante bellum, which he explained to mean that they continue to enjoy the administrative bail granted them before the charge was filed and served them.
By Lukmon Olabiyi
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