Jonathan’s aide, Warimpa Dudafa to remain in detention till January 23rd
Consequent upon the conviction of four companies used by a former special adviser on domestic affairs to ex President Jonathan to conceal and retain proceeds of crime, the trial of the first, second and third defendants, Waripamo-Owei Emmanuel Dudafa, Amajoye Azubuike Briggs and Adedamola Boladokun continued today before Justice Babs Kuewumi of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi Lagos.
The convicted companies which were used by Dudafa to conceal and retain proceeds of crime are Pluto Property and
Investment Company Limited, Seagate Property Development and Investment Company Limited, Transocean Property and Investment Company Limited and Avalon Global Property Development Company.
Counsel to the second defendant, Tochuckwu Onyike informed his Lordship of his decision to withdraw from representing the second defendant in the matter. He stated that his learned friend, Ige Asemudiara will further put up representation for the second defendant. However, Ige Asemudiara sought protection from Section 36 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution that gives counsels ample time to prepare for a case as he stated that he had just been handed the case file. He further sought for a short adjournment to enable him make adequate preparation for the trial.
Counsel to the Prosecution, Rotimi Oyedepo objected to the application for adjournment saying it is extremely “unmeritorious” and he referred to his Lordship’s records noting that Mr. Ige Asemudiara has never been a stranger to the proceedings.
A withdrawal of a single person from the team of lawyers representing the second defendant cannot be a ground for adjournment, he said. `He further added the application for adjournment from the defence counsel was a ploy to frustrate the day’s proceedings. He remarked, “My Lord, the change of counsel cannot be made orally on the day that the matter is set to take place. Even in civil proceedings, the formal application must be served on parties prior to the commencement of the case”.
Mr Oyedepo urged his Lordship to refuse the application for withdrawal which was made orally.Mr Asemudiara argued that he has not had time to go through the additional proof of evidence served by the prosecution because it was only just handed to him by Mr. Onyike who previously withdrew from the case and that a possible refusal of adjournment could amount to a breach of counsel’s right against “forced labour”.
Counsels to the first and third defendants, Gbenga Oyewole and Joseph Okodieme also aligned themselves with the submission of Mr Asemudiara stating that they had been served additional proof of evidence late Justice Kuewumi however ruled that the application for adjournment is refused and asked for trial to proceed. He also asked that the prosecuting counsel present a witness whose proof of evidence had been served on counsels earlier.
Prosecuting counsel Oyedepo proceeded to call on Uche Obiakor, a deputy manager at Skye Bank Plc. She described her activities in the bank as growing existing relationships and looking for customers that need facilities to enable them grow their businesses.Asked if she knows the 3rd defendant in the case to which she answered “Yes. He used to be a colleague of mine in Skye Bank before he moved to Wema Bank.
Asked whether she knows the four convicted companies to which she answered “Yes. They have accounts in Skye Bank, they are customers of Skye Bank”. She further stated that the types of accounts the companies operated were Corporate accounts and Platinum Card accounts.
Explaining how the accounts were opened, Uche Obiakor stated that the 3rd defendant, Damola Boladokun had come to the bank with a man she presumed was a representative of the 4th to 7th defendants (the four companies). Dermal took the man to my branch manager Oladipo Oshodi and said he will be the liaison for those accounts, she said.
She stated that the man eventually brought the account opening packages to the account officer Theodora Baerinck, her subordinate who reports to her. The accounts were open thereafter and domiciled at the Adeola Hopewell branch.
Prosecuting counsel implored the witness to tell the court what transpired between her office, Skye Bank Plc and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, between May and July 2016.
“EFCC sent a letter during that period requesting for the statement of account and account opening documents. The letter was forwarded to my Adeola Hopewell Street branch. We gathered all the documents requested by EFCC and forwarded same to our compliance department. The compliance department forwarded same to EFCC alongside the covering letter signed by the Head of Compliance and another compliance officer”.
Mr Oyedepo sought to tender the documents in evidence. Counsel to the first defendant Gbenga Oyewole objected to the admissibility of the document saying the document is a Skye Bank letter addressed to the EFCC and should not be tendered by a Skye Bank official. He stated that the proper party to tender the document would be the EFCC. He also stated that the said witness is not a signatory to the letter.
Counsels to the second and third defendants aligned themselves with the submission of Mr Gbenga Oyewole.
After counter arguments and deliberation, Justice Kuewumi admitted the documents in evidence as exhibts Aa1, Aa2, Aa3 and Aa4 respectively.Prosecuting counsel proceeded to ask Uche Obiakor if there was any means of identification presented when the accounts were open to which she answered “Yes”.
Asked for the comment written on the means of the identification and she stated, that “my colleague Damola Boladokun sighted the original documents”.
Asked to tell the court her role in opening Avalon Global Property Development Company’s account, she said, “I collected all the necessary documents to open the account and my duty is to sight the means of identification along with all the Corporate Affairs documents and return to the company but in this case, my colleague Damola Boladokun sighted the originals”.The matter was adjourned to January 23 2017 for further hearing.