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Court Dismisses $2m Fraud Allegations Against Atiku’s lawyer, Other

BY OLUGBENGA SOYELE, Lagos

Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court in Lagos Monday dismissed the $2 million money laundering charge brought against Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie, one of the lawyers of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar.

Justice Aneke dismissed the charge against the lawyer and his brother, Erhunse Giwa-Osagie, while ruling on a no case submission application they filed against the three-court charge of conspiracy and money laundering brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

According to the judge, the EFCC failed to establish a prima facie case against the defendants.

The anti-graft agency had accused the lawyer and his brother of conspiring to make a cash payment of $2 million without going through a financial institution during the 2019 general elections.

The Commission insisted that the sum exceeded the amount authorised by law to be transacted in cash.

According to the EFCC the defendants allegedly committed an offence contrary to sections 18(a) and 1(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011, punishable under Section 16(2)(b).

But the Giwa-Osagie brothers pleaded not guilty to the charge.

During trial, the EFCC called two witnesses who testified in favour of its allegation that the $2m was evidence of criminal activity.

The commission closed its case after calling two witnesses and prayed the court to order the defendants to open their defence.

However, the defendants filed a no-case submission arguing among others that they never acted illegally and also urged the court to dismiss the charge.

Ruling on the applications on Monday, Justice Aneke upheld the Giwa-Osagies’ submissions.

The judge held, among others, that the EFCC failed to establish beyond reasonable doubt that the money was illegal.

The charges read: “That you Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie and Erhunse Giwa-Osagie, sometimes in February 2019 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, conspired to commit an offence to wit: making cash payment of the sum of $2,000,000.00 (two million United State Dollars) without going through financial institution, which sum exceeded the amount authorised by law and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a), and 1(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act.

“That you Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie, on or before the 12th day of February 2019 in Nigeria, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, procured Erhunse Giwa-Osagie to make cash payment of the sum of $2,000,000.00 without going through financial institution, which sum exceeded the amount authorised by law and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(c) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act.

“That you Erhunse Giwa-Osagie, sometimes in February 2019 in Nigeria, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, made the payment of the sum of $2,000,000.00 without going through a financial institution, which sum exceeded the amount authorised by law and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Sections 1(a). & 16(1)(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (As Amended) and Punishable under section 16 of the Same Act.”

 

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