Ex-chairman of the Edo State Branch of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) Dr. Emmanuel Ighodaro and four other medical doctors facing trial over alleged N21.7 million fraud in Edo state have prayed the court to quash charges preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)
The five medical doctors, who were former executive members of the Edo State Branch of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) between 2013 and 2014 are Emmanuel Ighodaro; State NMA chairman, Anthony Owolabi, Quincy Atoghengbe, Raymond Ogieva and Oseremen Gabriel Ogbegbor.
The accused were last January 31, arraigned at High Court 11, Criminal Division, Benin-City by the anti-graft agency for alleged conspiracy to commit felony, fraudulent false accounting and stealing of about N21.7million belonging to the Edo State chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association.
The Medical doctors facing 21-count charge, through their various counsel also challenge the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the case.
At the resumed trial on Tuesday counsel to EFCC, Ben Ubi, told the court that counsel to the defendants have filed separate applications, seeking its leave to quash the case as well as challenging its jurisdiction to adjudicate on the matter.
According to him, this case was slated for trial today and in the course of preparing for trial defendants served us with four separate applications seeking to quash the information and also challenging the jurisdiction of the court. Just this morning we were also served with another application by the fifth for the same purposes. We took date to enable us react to the applications so that the judge can come to a proper finding at the end of the arguments.
Also reacting, Belinda Okoduwa, counsel to the fifth defendant, said they filed applications seeking the leave of the court to quash the charge because it is incompetent.
She said EFCC, however asked for adjournment to enable it respond to the applications, which the defendants obliged to.
The presiding judge, justice Efe Ikponwmonba, however adjourned the case to March 20,2018 for definite hearing.
The accused had on the day of arraignment pleaded not guilty when the charges were read before them by the court clerk.
In the charge sheet EFCC, said the offences were punishable under section 516, section 435(2)C), section 435(2)b), section 390(7) and section 390(9) of the criminal code.
It also alleged that the accused had between 2013 and 2014 conspired to make a false entry in the audit report for the accounting year, ended August 1st, 2013 to July 31, 2014 of the association inserted “anticipatory income” in the report to cover a loan of N6 million yet to be received.
It further alleged that the accused conspired to omit an entry of N3 million withdrawal from the Fidelity Bank account No.4150018859 in the audit report for the accounting year of the association.
Other allegations were conspiracy to make a false entry in the audit report for the accounting year ended August 1st, 2013 and July 31, 2014 of the association that the sum of N2,700 million, out of N6million loan taken by the outgone executive had been repaid on trust.
They were also alleged to have stolen the sum of N3 million, the sum of N2 million, N1million being the property of the association, N2,100 million out of the N2,805 million claimed to have spent from Zenith Bank account number 1013598852 on exhibition stands for the annual delegate meeting/annual general conference of the Nigerian Medical Association for 2014.
Other allegations were, the stealing of N895,000, N200,000 and N805,000 from Zenith bank account of 1013598852 by the accused being the property of the association.
The accused were however, admitted on bail by the presiding judge, Efe Ikponwmonba in the sum of N1 million each and a surety who must be gainfully employed and with evidence of tax clearance.