Subsidy Scam: Court Fines Adbullahi Alao For Counsel’s Absence In Court

Subsidy scamJustice Adebisi Akinlade of the Lagos High Court, sitting in Igbosere, on Wednesday September 17, 2014, ordered that Abdullahi Alao, a defendant standing trial in a N2.6billion scam, instituted against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, should pay a sum of N50, 000 as fine to the EFCC, for the failure of his counsel to appear in court for the continuation of his trial.

A defence team led by Taiwo Osipitan (SAN) failed to show up in court on Wednesday, for the cross examination of a prosecution witness, Laval Ahmed, who also doubles as the principal witness in the ongoing trial of Alao and his company, Axenergy Limited for their alleged involvement in a N2.6 billion oil subsidy scam, under the Petroleum Support Fund, for a purported importation of 33.3million litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).

Oluwatosin Dawodu, who held brief for Osipitan, prayed the court to adjourn to a later date, explaining that Osipitan was absent because he had to attend a conference.

The prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, immediately prayed the court not to grant the application.

This application is intended to put wool in the eye of my Lord, I therefore urge my Lord to use the sledge hammer of justice to prevent that from happening. And that the cost of transportation of the witness be taken over by the defence counsel,” he said.

Justice Akinlade, who had earlier insisted that Dawodu must go ahead with the cross examination of the witness, however, granted the adjournment, which according to her, was necessary to enable the defendant get deserved fairness and proper representation.

She also ordered that the transportation cost of the prosecution witness be paid to him before the next adjourned date.

She subsequently adjourned the matter till October 8, 2014 for continuation of trial.

Court grants Gbenga Daniel leave to travel for medical attention

Former Ogun State Governor Gbenga Daniel on Thursday was granted leave to attend to his health issues abroad.

The State High Court hearing the case in Abeokuta ordered the release of his international passport which had been in custody of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

The order by the presiding Judge, Olanrewaju Mabekoje, was subsequent to a motion filed by the lead counsel to the accused, Taiwo Osipitan, informing the court that Mr. Daniel needs to urgently attend to his health in London.

“We prayed Your Lordship to ask EFCC to release the accused passport to travel for urgent medical attention in London which is his fundamental rights. We attached x-ray and medical report to the application,” Mr. Osipitan pleaded.

“There is need for defendant to go and take care of his health. We need a healthy defendant, we shall return the passport. He would not spend more than two weeks,” Mr. Osipitan held.

In response, Rotimi Jacobs, the EFCC’s lead counsel said the accused should not be allowed to go abroad for medical treatment.

But the judge ordered the anti-graft agency to release the international passport to enable the accused seek medical attention outside the country.

Mr. Mabekoje, however, ordered the accused to return to the country not later than 30th September, 2012 and within three days, return the passport to the EFCC.

Daniel owns an account allegedly used to siphon state funds.

At the hearing, a witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) who also works with the Finbank – Omolara Akiodem – confirmed to the court that the accused is the sole signatory of an account belonging to Masterline Investment and Property Limited.

The EFCC had alleged that the company was one of Mr. Daniel’s sources of siphoning State Government’s money while in office as the governor.

The witness during cross examination told the court that since inception of opening the account in 2000, Mr. Daniel till date remains the only signatory to the account

She said Mr. Daniel between 2003 and 2009 had been signing the cheques assigned to the account, adding that on 9th September, 2005, a GTB cheque number 3037 in the sum of N10million was deposited into the account.

Similarly, on 10th February 2006, cheque number 3962 bearing the sum of N10million was paid into the account by one Adenike Ogundipe, who also on 25th April 2005 deposited N9million with cheque number 5013.

The judge adjourned hearings of the case to 15, 25 and 26 of October, 2012.

Gbenga Daniel has been facing criminal charges filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in an Ogun State High Court.