Managing director of FirstNation Airways, Mr. Kayode Odukoya, yesterday, asked an Ikeja Special Offences Court to quash the N1. 7 billion theft charge preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Odukoya made the request in a notice of preliminary objection filed by his counsel, Mr Olawale Akoni (SAN) before the court presided over by Justice Mojisola Dada.
The EFCC is prosecuting Odukoya alongside FirstNation Airways and Bellview Airlines on a four- count charge bordering on forgery, use of false document, perjury and stealing.
The defendants had however, pleaded not guilty to the charges. During Monday’s proceedings, Akoni informed the court that the defense had filed a notice of preliminary objection which had been served on the prosecution. Akoni urged the court to give priority to the determination of the application which is challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the charges against the defendants.
Responding, the EFCC counsel, Mrs. Zainab Etuh, confirmed that the prosecution had been served with the application but was yet to file its reply. Consequently, the judge adjourned the matter till May 21, 2018 for hearing of the application.
In the application dated April 30,2018 and supported by an 11-paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Kerry Anakwenze, the defendants are asking for an Order quashing and/or striking out the Information dated Dec. 11, 2017 , for want of jurisdiction. The defendants also asked the court for an Order discharging them of the Information filed against them by the EFCC for want of jurisdiction.
The application said: “Take further notice that the grounds upon which this preliminary objection is brought are that: This Honourable Court lacks the jurisdiction and/or competence to entertain the Information/Charge No. ID/239C/2012 as presently constituted.
“The Information/Charge No. ID/239C/2012 contravenes the provisions of Sections 249, 252 and 77 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law No. 10 2011. “Section 249 of the ACJL stipulates that prosecutorial authority before the High Court of Lagos State shall be exercised only in the name of “The State of Lagos”.
“The Information/Charge No. ID/239C/2012 filed against the Applicants does not comply with Section 249 of the ACJL as stated above. This Honourable Court cannot countenance the Information comprised in Information/Charge No. ID/239C/2012, as same is incompetent.” They added that the charge, as presently filed by the EFCC, was therefore an abuse of court process.
However, in the charge sheet, the EFCC had alleged that Odukoya committed the offences of forgery, use of false document and perjury on March 21, 2013. The EFCC alleged that the accused forged the Memorandum of Loss of Lagos State Certificate of Occupancy registered as No. 33 at page 33 volume 1011 at the Lagos State Land Registry, Alausa, Lagos, in order that the document be acted upon as genuine.
The forged document was in respect of a property located at No. 29, Oduduwa St., Ikeja GRA, Lagos. Odukoya is alleged by the EFCC to have used the false document, and also gave false information on oath, concerning the loss of the certificate of occupancy at the Lagos State Land Registry.
The anti-graft commission also said that on Oct. 7, 2016, Odukoya stole and dishonestly converted to his own use N1.7 billion belonging to Skye Bank. The offences violate Sections 85, 86(1) 278(1)(b), 285, 361(1),(a) (b), 363 and 364(1) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011.
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