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N4.6bn fraud: Court fixed October 2 for hearing

Hearing of a motion brought by former Minister of State for Finance, Nenandi Usman, has been fixed by a Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos. Justice Mohammed Aikawa, on Monday fixed October 2 to hear the motion after Usman’s lawyer, Ferdinand Orbih (SAN), informed the court about the exparte application.

Orbih had told the court that his application was brought pursuant to the provisions of the Sheriffs and Civil Processes Act as well as the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules.

He said his application was seeking leave of the court, to serve a motion on notice, on the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, over alleged acts of contempt.

He told the court that the Minister had published a list of looters some weeks back, and had named the first accused as number 19 on that list.

According to Orbih, the defence views such act very seriously, as it is an attempt to interfere with the proceedings before the court, and portray the first accused as already guilty of the charges preferred.

He, therefore, urged the court to grant the exparte application enabling the defence to serve the said motion on notice on the Minister in Abuja, by substituted means, as personal service may not be feasible.

He argued that the court possessed powers to order that the motion be served on any responsible senior official of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, and therefore, urged the court to grant his application.

Justice Aikawa noted that: “I have perused the application including the supporting affidavits and I am satisfied that the application ought to be granted.

“The application is granted save that it should be served on his confidential Secretary in Abuja” he said.

Usman is standing trial over allegation of N4.6 billion fraud alongside a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, and Yusuf Danjuma, a former Chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON).

Also charged is a company, Jointrust Dimentions Nigeria Ltd.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had preferred a 17-count charge of money laundering against the accused.

They had all pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The planned trial could not resume yesterday as counsel making appearance for the EFCC, Mr Idris Mohammed, informed the court that its third witness (PW3) who ought to be cross examined, was indisposed.

He told the court that the witness, who also resides outside the court’s jurisdiction, was pregnant and following medical advice, is currently on bed rest.

On that premise, Idris urged the court to grant an adjournment.

The team of defence counsel, Messrs Ferdinard Orbih (SAN), Wale Balogun, and K. C Nwofo, did not oppose the application for adjournment.

The court then adjourned until Oct. 2 for hearing of the motion on notice and for continuation of trial.

In the charge, the accused were alleged to have committed the offences between January and March 2015.

All offences were said to have contravened the provisions of sections 15 (3) (4), 16 (2) (b), and 16 (5) of the Money laundering (prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.

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Ihesiulo Grace

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