Ex-Edo NMA officials ask court to quash fraud charge
Former chairman of the Edo State branch of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) Dr. Emmanuel Ighodaro and four other doctors facing trial over N21.7 million fraud have prayed the court to quash charges preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)
The four others, who were also former executive members of the branch of the between 2013 and 2014 are Anthony Owolabi, Quincy Atoghengbe, Raymond Ogieva and Oseremen Gabriel Ogbegbor.
The accused were last January 31, arraigned at High Court 11, Criminal Division, Benin-City by the anti-graft agency for alleged conspiracy to commit felony, fraudulent/false accounting and stealing of about N21.700million belonging to the state chapter of NMA.
The doctors facing 21-count charge, through their various counsel also challenged the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the case.
At the resumed trial yesterday, counsel to EFCC, Ben Ubi, told the court that the defendants’ lawyers have filed separate applications, seeking its leave to quash the case as well as challenging its jurisdiction.
According to him, this case was slated for trial today and in the course of preparing for it, “defendants served us with four separate applications seeking to quash the information and also challenging the jurisdiction of the court. Just this morning we were also served with another application by the fifth for the same purposes. We took date to enable us react to the applications so that the judge can come to a proper finding at the end of the arguments.”
Belinda Okoduwa, counsel to the fifth defendant, said they filed applications seeking the leave of the court to quash the charge because it is incompetent.
She said EFCC, however asked for adjournment to enable it respond to the applications, which the defendants obliged to.
The presiding judge, justice Efe Ikponwmonba, however adjourned the case to March 20,2018 for definite hearing.
The accused had on the day of arraignment pleaded not guilty when the court clerk read the charges to them.
In the charge sheet, EFCC said the offences were punishable under section 516, section 435(2)C), section 435(2)b), section 390(7) and section 390(9) of the criminal code.
It also alleged that the accused had between 2013 and 2014 conspired to make a false entry in the audit report for the accounting year, ended August 1st, 2013 to July 31, 2014 of the association, inserting “anticipatory income” in the report to cover a loan of N6 million yet to be received.
It further alleged that the accused conspired to omit an entry of N3 million withdrawal from Fidelity Bank account No.4150018859 in the audit report for the accounting year of the association.
Other allegations were conspiracy to make a false entry in the audit report for the accounting year ended August 1st, 2013 and July 31, 2014 of the association and that the sum of N2,700 million, out of N6million loan taken by the outgone executive had been repaid on trust.
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