Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court in Lagos will on July 6 decide whether or not to dismissed the charge of fraud brought against a former Senior Special Assistant to ex-President Gooluck Jonathan on Domestic Affairs, Dr Waripamo-Owei Dudafa by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)
Justice Idris fixed the date after listening to a no case submission application filed by Dudafa, asking the court to discharge and acquit him.
But the EFCC in its opposition to the application insisted that the commission through its witnesses, evidence and exhibits had established a prima facie case against Dudafa and his co-accused persons.
The anti-graft agency is prosecuting Dudafa, one Joseph Iwejuo and some companies on a 23-count charge bordering on conspiracy and concealment of crime proceeds amounting to over N1.6billion.
The companies are Seagate Property Development & Investment Ltd, Avalon Global Property Development Company Ltd, Pluto Property Ltd, Investment Company Ltd, Rotate Interlink Services Ltd, LIbejige Services Ltd, De Jakes Fast Food & Restaurant Nigeria Ltd and Ebiwise Resources.
While arguing the application on Tuesday, counsel to the former presidential aide, Gboyega Oyewole (SAN) submitted that the EFCC’s case against his client was watery.
Oyewole contended further, “We urge your lordship to hold that no case has been made out against the first defendant to warrant his being asked to enter a defence.”
He also maintained that the monies Dudafa was accused of laundering was given to him by his bosses, adding that there was no evidence the funds were stolen.
“The first defendant has stated the source of the money. He was an aide. And there is nothing to show that the money came from a criminal source,” the lawyer argued.
Also lawyer to the second accused person, Ige Asemudara faulted the prosecution’s claim that the money was allegedly obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) based on an instruction letter National Security Adviser (NSA) Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd).
“Nothing was tendered showing that the money Dasuki requested left the CBN. There must be a debit note to show that the money left. In the absence of that, it cannot be said that there was a crime,” the lawyer stated.
Asemudara also submitted that his client, a bank branch manager in Yenegoa, the Bayelsa State capital, had no link to the companies in whose accounts the money was kept.
He said, “These monies were in the ordinary books of the bank and were not hidden under a pillow. If indeed there was concealment, it must be by the bank and not the branch manager who is an employee. The accounts were accessible so the issue of concealment could not have arisen.
“We urge your Lordship to discharge the second defendant on all the counts.”
However, the lawyer to the EFCC, Nnaemeka Omenwa argued that the prosecution, through its seven witnesses and exhibits tendered, made out a prima facie case against the defendants to require them to enter their defence.
Omenwa contended that there was evidence that Dudafa asked Nna to raise drafts in respect of the monies, adding that Nna who signed on the companies’ accounts.
He said, “The evidence on record shows clearly that the first defendant was appointed by the Federal Government as the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Domestic/Household and Social Events between 2012 and 2015.
“The evidence on record shows that the in the course of this service, huge sums of money which are not the first defendant’s salary and allowances were traced to the accounts which he procured the second defendant to open, maintain and operate in fictitious names.
“The second defendant, who at the material time was the Branch manager in Yenogoa branch of Heritage Bank, acceded to the request of the first defendant and agreed with him to conceal these funds in the accounts opened in the name of Seagate Property Development and Investment Ltd, Avalon Global Property Development Company Ltd, Ebiwise Resources, Pluto Property and Investment Company Ltd, Rotato Interlink Services Ltd and De Jakes Fast Food and Restaurant Nigeria Ltd,” he stated.
The prosecuting counsel further insisted that the evidence on record established a prima facie case that the funds were received in foreign currencies from Dudafa by Murtala Bashir Abubakar through the state house staff.
He also said Abubakar thereafter converted the currencies to naira and credited the accounts nominated by Dudafa “in grand conspiracy with the second defendant.”
“It is our humble submission that the defendants’ agreement or the meeting of the minds of the defendants to conceal the funds in the accounts where the second defendant must of necessity assume the identity of other persons is a clear manifestation of the defendants’ conspiracy to carry out an unlawful act to wit: concealing proceeds of unlawful act.
“We, therefore, urge my lord to hold that the prosecution has made out a case of conspiracy against the defendants as alleged in counts 1,” EFCC counsel said.
He maintained that Dudafa allegedly used his position or office as the SSA to the former president to confer unfair advantage on himself “by enriching himself with huge sums of money which are warehoused and fraudulently concealed in the various accounts managed by the second defendant on behalf of the applicant.”