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You must face trial for alleged N1.7bn theft, Judge tells FirstNation MD

Justice Mojisola Dada of the Ikeja Special Offences Court has ordered that Kayode Odukoya must face trial over an alleged N1.7billion theft charge proffered against...

FirstNation Airways CEO, Kayode Odukoya, middle, charged with fraud. PHOTO: NAN

Justice Mojisola Dada of the Ikeja Special Offences Court has ordered that Kayode Odukoya must face trial over an alleged N1.7billion theft charge proffered against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Odukoya is the Managing Director of FirstNation Airways, whose operating licence has currently been suspended by the aviation authorities.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Dada in a ruling, yesterday, dismissed a preliminary objection, dated April 30, filed by Odukoya’s defence team, seeking to quash the charges.

“The totality of the preliminary objection fails and is hereby dismissed.
“The proper parties are before the court and the application is a time wasting device. I so hold,” Justice Dada ruled.

Following the ruling, Mrs. Zainab Ettu, the Prosecuting Counsel for the EFCC, informed the court that nine prosecuting witnesses were to testify against the airline boss, adding: “We will be asking the court for trial dates.”

Justice Dada fixed November 7, 8 and 9 for Odukoya’s trial.

On June 29, this year, Odukoya’s Defence Counsel, Mr. Olawale Akoni (SAN), had, via a preliminary objection, prayed for an order of the court striking out the charges.

The application, supported by an 11-paragraph affidavit, had sought an order quashing or striking out the charges filed by the EFCC, dated December 11, last year, for want of jurisdiction.

The defendants, in the application, said the EFCC charge contravened the provisions of Sections 249, 252 and 77 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL), No. 10 of 2011.

According to the defence, Section 249 of the ACJL stipulates that prosecutorial authority before the High Court of Lagos State shall be exercised only in the name of ‘the state of Lagos,’ insisting: “The information/charge No. ID/239C/2012 filed against the applicants does not comply with Section 249 of the ACJL, as stated above.”

Opposing the application, however, the EFCC, in an 18-paragraph affidavit, dated June 19, argued that it did not require a fiat from the attorney general of Lagos State to prosecute the matter and urged the court to dismiss Odukoya’s application on the ground that it lacked merit and was an abuse of process of court.

The EFCC is prosecuting Odukoya, alongside FirstNation Airways and Bellview Airlines, on a four-count charge bordering on forgery, use of false document, perjury and stealing.

Odukoya was alleged to have committed the offences of forgery, use of false document and perjury on March 21, 2013.

The anti-graft agency alleged that the defendant forged the Memorandum of Loss of Lagos State Certificate of Occupancy, registered as No. 33 at page 33, Volume 1011 at the Lagos State Land Registry in Alausa, in order for the document to be acted upon as genuine.

The forged document was in respect of a property located at No. 29, Oduduwa Street, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos.

The EFCC alleged that Odukoya used the false document and also gave false information on oath concerning the loss of the Certificate of Occupancy at the Lagos State Land Registry.

It also alleged that on October 7, 2016, Odukoya stole and dishonestly converted to his own use, N1.7 billion belonging to Skye Bank Plc.

The offences, it said, violate Sections 85, 86(1) 278(1) (b), 285, 361(1), (a) (b), 363 and 364(1) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.