The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Thursday, informed a Federal High Court, Lagos, that it has rejected the ‘proposed out of court settlement, filed by the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Oloye Jumoke Akinjide, and others, who standing trial over alleged N650 million fraud.
Akinjide alongside Senator Ayo Adesheun and Chief (Mrs) Olanrewaju Otiti, are standing trial before the court presided over by Justice Muslim Sule Hassan, on charges bordering on the said allegation.
At the resumed trial of the accused persons, lawyer to the EFCC, Nnaemeka Omewa, told the court that his agency received a proposal to settlement from the accused persons’ counsels.
He, however, told the court that he has the instruction of the management of his agency to reject the said proposal, as it was not in line with the provisions of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015.
He added that based on the rejection of the said proposed settlement, his agency is prepared for the trail of the accused persons.
In response to the prosecutor’s submission, Chief Akinjide’s lawyer, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN), confirmed that the three accused persons proposed the EFCC in line with Section 14 of the agency’s Act.
He stated that the prosecution just informed them of its decision to the said proposal.
Ayorinde (SAN) however stated that for the court record and because of public interest, that the case against his client and others, seems unnecessary.
Ayorinde (SAN) told the court that they are confident that the case is a sham and will be defended vigorously, as it is political, unnecessary and waste of resources.
Equally, Senator Ayo Ademola Adeseun’s lawyer, Mr. Michael Lana, described the refusal of the proposed settlement of the accused persons, as a betrayal of trust, which a lawyer should not involved.
Lana told the court that a suit was filed against the agency and Rotimi Oyedepo, a lawyer in the agency, and that the suit was withdrew and the sum of N650 million was paid, on Oyedepo’s promise the criminal charge will not be prosecuted.
Lana said: “Oyedepo made a proposal to us, which we believed, and withdrew the suit against the EFCC and himself. On the first arraignment, the EFCC and Oyedepo told that the defendants should not be arraigned, as we agreed to settled.
“It is at my lord’s wisdom, Justice Malik, he decided that they can be arraigned, and that we discuss the settlement, that was how they were arraigned at Ibadan. We now fulfilled the conditions, we withdrew the suit, and the money he requested for was paid.
“It’s sacrosanct ethnically such a thing is not condone in legal profession. Oyedepo was the initiator of the settlement, we are highly disappointed in Rotimi Oyedepo “.
Also, the third accused. Chief Olanrewaju Otiti, through her lawyer, Akinola Oladeun, told the court that there was no stage she wanted to enter plea bargain.
Though, she stated that she was part of the proposed, insisted that there was no time issue of plea bargain was mentioned.
After making his client’s known on the proposed settlement, Oladehun, called the attention of the court to his client application for bail variation.
He said his client is due for medical check-up overseas which she has been postponing. He therefore urged the court to hear the application.
In response, the prosecutor told the court that they needed time to reply to the application, adding that his agency is yet to file the response.
Ruling on all the submissions, Justice Sule, said: ” I have listened to the arguments, since the settlement had broken down, I will go to the trial of this case.
“Application for the third defendant has not ripe for for hearing, it shall be taken at the next adjourned date”.
After the court’s ruling on the submissions, the prosecution called Mrs. Kehinde Adeniyi, a banker with new generation bank.
Adeniyi while being led-in-evidence by the prosecutor, said she gave a cash sum of N650 million to Oloye Akinjide and Senator Adesheun, and one Honourable Yinka Taiwo, on the instruction of one Martins Ozuogbe, from the bank’s head office.
The witness who is the first to be called by the prosecution said: “on March 6, 2015, I received a call from our head office, from Martins Ozuogbe, that we should take the sum of N650 million to Oloye Akinjide, Hon. Taiwo Yinka, and Ademola Adesheun, upon signing of receipt payment, and two means of identification. And they came and signed the receipt and presented the means of identification and payment was made.
The witness, who is currently Head of Customers’ Service of the bank, further stated that the payment was made in Naira, and the accused used their Hilux and box to collect the money.
The receipt for the payment of the money was tendered and admitted by the court as exhibit P 1.
During cross-examination by the defence teams, the witness told the court that in the course of investigating the alleged fraud against the accused persons, she wrote three statements to the antigraft agency.
One of the statements she said was written at the Ibadan office of the agency, while the other two was written in Lagos office.
She also told the court that she only know Diezani Madueke, as former petroleum Minister. Adding that she did not know the source of the money, and the purpose which the N650 million was used for.
Meanwhile, the matter has been adjourned till March 8 and 9, for continuation of trial.
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