EFCC Files Notice Of Appeal, Says Court Was Wrong To Free Jonathan’s Aide Dufada

Barely 24 hours after the Federal High Court freed Waripamo Owei-Dudafa, an aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan, and a banker, Iwejuo Joseph, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have formally filed its notice of appeal challenging the judgment.

The notice of appeal which is pursuant to Section 241 (1) (a) of the 1999 Constitution, is premised on nine grounds of appeal.

It lists the Federal Republic of Nigeria as the appellant and Dudafa and Iwejuo as respondents.

In the first round, the EFCC Prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo said the trial judge, Justice Mohammed Idris erred in law by discharging and acquitting the respondents on counts of conspiracy.

In the particulars of the notice, Justice Idris was said to have failed to bind himself with the age-long principle of law which provides that conspiracy is complete upon agreement.

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Dudafa and Iwejuo in their defence had both stated that they did not know each other until the time of their arrest. But the EFCC says following the age-long principle, it is settled law that once a conspiracy has come into existence other conspirators may join in at a later stage and it is not necessary for the conspirators to know themselves or the full extent of the scheme to which a conspirator has joined himself.

The Commission also says that the judge also departed from the settled position of law that “confession alone is sufficient to support a conviction without corroboration so long as the court is satisfied of the truth of the confession”.

Justice Idris was said to have failed to consider and ascribe any probative value to any of the evidence adduced by the two respondents establishing a meeting of the mind, which constitutes the conspiracy to carry out the unlawful act of concealing proceeds of crime.

The EFCC is, therefore, seeking an order of the court convicting the respondents as charged and sentencing them as prescribed by the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 as amended and the EFCC Act of 2004.

N1.6bn Alleged Fraud: Court Frees Jonathan’s Ex-Aide Dudafa

Dudafa Says Statements Made To EFCC Were Forced
FILE PHOTO: Waripamo Owei-Dudafa

 

A former aide to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Waripamo Owei-Dudafa has been discharged and acquitted by a Federal High Court Sitting in Lagos on an alleged N1.6billion fraud charge.

Justice Mohammed Idris in a 190-page judgment on Thursday held that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) failed to prove any of the 22-charge beyond reasonable doubt against Owei-Dudafa and a Heritage Bank staff, Joseph Iwejuo.

Justice Idris held that EFCC’s case was “based on suspicions” and suspicions “cannot take the place of legal evidence.”

Justice Idris also held that the EFCC failed to call vital witnesses, like Jonathan, the former NSA Sambo Dasuki, and even the CBN governor, and such failure was fatal to the case of the EFCC.

READ ALSO: Court Fixes Date To Hear Final Forfeiture Of Diezani’s $40m Jewellery

The judge held that a particular vital witness, Sompre Omeibi, who could have linked the defendants to the offences, was not summoned to testify.

He also said the prosecution failed to carry out a proper investigation as the EFCC did not conclude its investigation before rushing to court, thereby leaving loopholes.

Justice Idris, therefore, dismissed the entire 22 counts charge against Dudafa and Iwuejo.

In a swift reaction, the EFCC Prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo has indicated that the Commission will study the judgment as there legal grounds to challenge same.

The EFCC had accused the defendants of concealing the N1.6billion through a company, Seagate Property Development and Investment Limited, an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 17(a).

They have also accused them of knowingly concealing proceeds of crime through Avalon Global Property Development Company Limited amounting to N399,470,000.00, among others.

EFCC said Dudafa, between June 1 and June 4, 2015, “procured” Iwejuo and Ebiwise Resources to conceal N150 million, being proceeds of crime.

Other companies allegedly used in laundering the money include Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited, Rotato Inter Link Services Limited and De Jakes Fast Food and Restaurant Nigerian Limited.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Dudafa Says EFCC Forced Him To Write Statement

Dudafa Says Statements Made To EFCC Were ForcedThe Federal High Court has adjourned till February 13, it’s ruling on the admissibility of a court order on which authority the EFCC remanded a former Senior Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Waripamo-Owei Dudafa.

The defendant had contended that the EFCC remanded him in custody without access to his lawyers.

He had also denied statements made in custody insisting that the statements were dictated and he was mentally tortured to sign them in order to regain his freedom.

Under cross-examination on Tuesday from Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, the Counsel to the EFCC, Mr Dudafa denied being offered administrative bail by the commission.

He, however, admitted that one Barrister Sylvanus Habila who is his Uncle came to his rescue and acted as his lawyer.

The EFCC says the administrative bail was not completed because the lawyer recommended on behalf of the defendant’s sureties produced forged documents before the commission.

The EFCC told the court that this lawyer was also present in court when the remand order from a magistrate court was obtained.

Mr Dudafa, however, insisted that the lawyer was seen and not heard as the remand proceedings was an exparte one.

A move to tender the remand order in court to show that the lawyer made an argument for Mr Dudafas bail in the Magistrate court was rebuffed by the Defence Counsel, Mr Gboyega Oyewole who insisted that the document was not certified neither was it properly produced before the court.

The EFCC insisted that the document was produced in its primary form and did not require certification.

Following arguments and counter arguments on the issue, Justice Mohammed Idris adjourned till Feb 13 to consider his ruling on the admissibility of the document.

Mr Dudafa is testifying in a trial-within-trial to determine the voluntariness of some statements he made while in the custody of the EFCC after his arrest on charges of illegally concealing about 1.6billion Naira which were alleged to be proceeds of crime.

Court To Hear Suit Against Patience Jonathan On February 13

Patience Jonathan, Court, EFCCA Federal High Court in Lagos has adjourned hearing of the suit filed by wife of Nigeria’s former president, Mrs Patience Jonathan, against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and six others till February 13.

In the suit, the former first lady claimed ownership of the sum of $15.5 million which was frozen by the EFCC after it obtained an order from the court.

Justice Mohammed Idris adjourned the proceedings after Mrs Jonathan’s lawyer, Mr Ifedayo Adedipe, made a case for more time to enable him serve his amended claims on the respondents.

There was no opposition to his request.

The other respondents in the case are Skye Bank Plc, a former aide to Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, Waripamo-Owei Dudafa and four other companies.

In a separate case before Justice Babs Kuewunmi, the companies pleaded guilty to the offence of laundering the said amount of money.

Mrs Jonathan, however, claimed that the money belonged to her, saying she was the sole signatory to the accounts of the companies.

She, however, denied ownership of the companies.

Four Companies Plead Guilty To Money Laundering

AMCON, Asset Management, Jimoh Ibrahim, Union BankFour companies allegedly used to launder the sum of 15, 591,700 million Dollars by Waripamo Owei-Didafa, an Aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan have pleaded guilty to the offence before a Federal High Court Sitting in Lagos on Thursday.

The monies involved in the case is the same money which former First Lady, Patience Jonathan claimed belongs to her.

Mrs Jonathan had last week filed a fundamental rights enforcement suit where she admitted ownership of the monies.

She had asked among other things that the court should compel the EFCC to immediately remove the ‘No Debit Order’ placed on the accounts.

The four companies are Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited; Seagate Property Development & Investment Co. Limited; Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Limited and Development Company Limited.

They were all charged by the EFCC alongside the former aide to former Special Adviser on Domestic Affairs to ex-President Jonathan, Waripamo-Owei Dudafa, a lawyer, Amajuoyi Azubuike Briggs & a banker, Demola Bolodeoku.

While the companies pleaded guilty, the former Presidential aide, the lawyer & banker all pleaded not guilty to a 15 count amended charge.

Channels Television’s correspondent who is in court monitoring the proceedings reports that the offences for which they were all charged was said to have been committed between November 2013 & May 2015.