The Special Offences Court in Lagos has admitted in evidence more documents tendered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against one Kolawole Adedayo Erinle, alongside his firm, Rinde-Remdex Nigeria Limited.
Erinle and his company are standing trial on a three-count charge bordering on conspiracy, retention of proceeds of criminal conduct, and obtaining money under false pretences to the tune of $1.4 million.
They were previously arraigned before Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Lagos Special Offences Court on March 11, 2022. However, the trial could not commence before the retirement of Justice Taiwo, thereby prompting the re-assignment of the case to Justice Rahaman Oshodi.
Subsequently, the case began afresh on October 28, 2022.
At the resumption of proceedings on Monday, the court admitted some documents tendered by the counsel for the EFCC, T.J. Banjo, as part of the evidence to prove the case against the defendant.
This was contained in a statement by EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren.
The documents included bundles of correspondences between the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) relating to the alleged offence, as well as extrajudicial statements made to the EFCC by one Victoria, the mother of the defendant and one A. Abdulazeez, a clearing agent that helped the defendant in the clearing of vehicles imported into the country.
The fourth prosecution witness, PW4, Alex Ogbole, an EFCC investigator, had, on February 10, 2023, told the court that the EFCC led the Nigerian end of the investigation into the alleged crime, and that investigation showed that the mother was a beneficiary.
He had told the court that the EFCC received a petition from the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which indicated that the victim of the alleged fraud, Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences (KCUMB) had been a victim of Business Email Compromise (BEC).
However, when the prosecution sought to tender the correspondences between the EFCC and the FBI, which also included a judgement of a US court convicting the defendant of an eight-count charge bordering on bank fraud, which saw him serve a 27-month jail term, the defence counsel, Lawal Pedro, SAN, raised objections to their admissibility.
Arguments were, thereafter, taken by the court, as both parties argued on the admissibility or otherwise of the said documents.
After listening to the arguments, Justice Oshodi dismissed the objection raised by the defence, noting that “the weight should be considered, and relevance is key to admissibility.”
Justice Oshodi, thereafter, admitted the statements of the mother as Exhibit Q to Q3; the statement of Abdulazeez as Exhibit Q4; the FBI correspondence dated December 21, 2022 as Exhibit Q5; the FBI correspondence dated March 8, 2022 and February 8, 2022 as Exhibit Q6 and Q7, respectively.
Ogbole, who began his testimony on February 10, 2023, further testified in his examination-in-chief led by Banjo that Rinde-Remdex Nigeria Limited, a company owned by the defendant, received the $1,410,000 from the Bank of America account of one Edada Autoparts and Machinary Spareparts Inc.
“Edada was the primary recipient of the proceeds of the Business Email Compromise, BEC. $850,000 was first credited to Rinde-Remdex Nigeria Limited here in Nigeria, following which another $560,000 was sent to the account, totalling $1,410,000,” he stated.
“When the money got in, between March 6, 2019 and March 15, 2019, it was disbursed by Erinle at various times.”
According to the witness, the defendant, “who took possession of the proceeds of the fraud, tried to explain that there was one Edward Dada, but he couldn’t provide any information on the said Dada and our investigation revealed that the said Dada never existed.”
Earlier during proceedings, Pedro had moved the bail application for his client, which was strongly opposed by the prosecution.
“We concede that bail is at the discretion of the court and that the offence is a bailable offence. But it must be exercised judicially, considering the facts before the honourable court,” he said.
The case was adjourned till April 4 for ruling on the bail application
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