$15.5m scandal: Drama as defendants seek to change plea

The ongoing trial of Waripamo-owei Dudafa, a former Special Assistant to Goodluck Jonathan took a new twist Tuesday as four of the defendants who had earlier pleaded guilty sought to change their plea.


The four companies linked to Mrs. Patience Jonathan’s $15.591, 700m, in separate applications filed by their lawyers, asked the presiding judge, Justice Babs Kuewumi, to reverse their pleas on the ground that the court lacked jurisdiction to take the pleas of the directors of the companies.

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The companies are Pluto Property and Investment Development Company Limited, Seagate Property and Investment Development Company Limited, Transoceanic Property and Investment Development Company Limited and Avalon Property and Investment Development Company Limited.

The directors, who pleaded guilty on behalf of the four companies are; Taiwo Ebenezer for Avalon Property and Investment Development Company Limited; Kola Fredrick for Transoceanic Property and Investment Development Company Limited; Friday Davis and Agbo Baro for Seagate Property and Investment Development Company Limited.

Upon the guilty pleas of the directors, the court had adjourned for the review of the matter.

However, at the resumed proceedings Tuesday, lawyers to Waripamo-owei Dudafa, Amajuoyi Azubike Briggs as well as counsel to first and second accused persons, Mr. Gboyega Oyewole and Tochukwu Onyiuke, informed Justice Kuewumi of various applications seeking to change the companies’ guilty pleas.

Oyewole informed the court that his client’s application is seeking to set aside the company’s directors’ guilty plea, on the ground that they had denied having any link with the said companies.

He said taking the guilty plea of the companies will amount to mischievousness. Consequently, he urged the court to enter non guilty plea for the companies.

Also, lawyer to the second accused person, Onyiuke informed the judge that his client’s application is predicated on the court’s jurisdiction to take the plea of the purported directors of the companies.

Consequently, he too urged the court to set aside the guilty plea of the directors. But, Economic and Financila Crime, EFCC, prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, described the two applications as ‘strange and serious violent abuse of court process.’

He stated that the applications were aimed to stall the review of the fact of the matter against the four companies, which was the business of the court.

Oyedepo also said the applications were only seeking the court to do the impossible, and therefore urged the judge to discountenance them, alongside the exhibits tendered for not being certified.

The prosecutor said although, the companies have the right to change their pleas before ruling or judgment is delivered, however, going by the documents from the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, and the mandate forms from Skye Bank, the directors were the ones who were signatories to the companies.

He added that for the directors’ signatures and passport photographs to have been affixed in the companies’ forms both at CAC and banks, means that they have the mandate to represent the companies.

He therefore urged the court to reject the applications. Justice Kuewumi consequently adjourned till October 7, to rule on the applications.

EFCC, had in a second amended charge marked FHC/337C/16, alleged that the three accused persons alongside the four companies, between November 13, 2013 and March 31, 2015, conspired with one Sombre Omeibi, who is now at large, to retain the sum of $15.591,700, which they reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act, and thereby committed offences bordering on money laundering and stealing.

EFCC also alleged that the said money was wired through account numbers: 2110002207; 2110002245; 2110002238; 0122493290; 2110002252; domiciled in Skye Bank Plc.



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