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Court resolves conflict between lawyers in favour of AGF




Justic Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court, Lagos yesterday resolved the conflict between lawyers from the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on who will prosecute 16 suspects accused of fraud at the Consolidated Discount House Limited in favour of the AGF.

The arraignment of the suspects had been severally stalled following the sharp disagreement between the lawyers representing the AGF and EFCC on who should handle the case.

Yesterday, the court heard the motion filed by the lawyers with the AGF fiat, Dan Enwelum and Adedayo Adedeji praying the court to determine who to prosecute between the two.

The court refused the application by the EFCC’S counsel, A. B. Ozioko for an adjournment to respond to the motion filed by AGF on the ground that the reasons were “frivolous and aimed at wasting the time of the court and against the cause of justice”.

Justice Idris held that in the light of the subsisting fiat given to the private legal practitioners, the EFCC cannot take over prosecution unless the AGF directs otherwise.

Consequently, the plea of the accused persons were accordingly taken in respect of two separate charges marked as 20c and 21c. The accused pleaded not guilty. The court then ordered that their counsel produce them on the next adjourned date until formal application for bail is moved and adjourned to May 13th.

In respect of the third charge marked as 22c, plea could not be taken because two of the accused persons have not been served. The court directed that the prosecution should serve their counsels who were present in court, adding that they should be produced on April 25 for arraignment.

Three separates charges were filed against the suspects. Defendants in the first charge are Stephen Akinretoye, Peter Ololo and Falcon Securities Limited.

The second charge has Akinretoye, Mudashiru Shittu, Olawale Omisore, Captain Eddy Ndoms, Aquatic Transport Limited, Cross Oceans Limited and Ehco Ventures Limited as defendants.

In the third charge, Akinretoye, Shittu, Larai Claude-Eninn, Hassan Gbenga, Ajibola Jolaosho, Omisore Olawale, Omisope Johnson, Onimole Adebowale and Emmanuel Odedina are the accused.

In the first charge, the complainant, the Federal Government, alleged that between January 1 and December 31, 2007, the accused conspired to defraud Consolidated Discount Limited by granting loans to Falcon Securities Limited, a company owned by Ololo, without proper documentation.

The prosecution said they allegedly converted N43.9 billion, funds belonging to Consolidated Discount, in contravention of Section 15 (2) and 15 (3) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2012.

In the second charge, Akinretoye and others allegedly defrauded the company in the guise of granting loans to the fourth to seventh defendants and converted N520 million, N303 million and N600 million.

The prosecution said investigations showed that Consolidated Discount paid for vessels before the dates of the applications for loan made by the fourth to seventh accused.

In the third charge, the prosecution said the defendants, as employees of Consolidated Discount, committed fraud by converting its N915.7 million.
Shittu (as managing director) and Gbenga (as financial controller), between March 2012 and June 2013, allegedly transferred N1.6 billion from Consolidated Discount’s Union Bank Plc account: 0033295449, to companies belonging to them.

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