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Published On: Thu, Mar 20th, 2014

N1.1bn subsidy fraud: Court fines EFCC lawyer For habitual absence at trial

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From Matthew Irinoye, Lagos

Justice Lateefat Okunnu of a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja, yesterday awarded the sum of N5,000 against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)’s counsel Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, for habitual absence in the on-going trial of Opeyemi Ajuyah, and four others.

Opeyemi Ajuyah, and his co-defendants Arisekola-Alao, Olarenwaju Olalusi, two companies, Axenergy Ltd, and Majope Investment Ltd were alleged to have conspired to defraud the federal government to the tune of N1.1 billion subsidy payment.

The defendants are facing an eight-count charge bordering on conspiracy, obtaining money under false pretences, forgery, uttering and use of false documents. They are being prosecuted by the EFCC.

When the matter came up on Wednesday, there was no counsel to represent the EFCC.

Following the development, Justice Okunnu stood down the matter for almost two hours. Still there were no counsels representing the EFCC.

The incident made two defense counsels made oral applications for the charges against their clients to be dismissed.

While addressing the court, counsel to Axeenergy, Oluwadare Falana, said the prosecution had repeatedly refused to show up and that his “humble application is to pray the court to dismiss the charge against the first and second defendants.”

Also counsel to Ajuyah and Majope Investment Ltd, Abidemi Oguntoye, aligned himself with the submission of Falana.

Okunnu, in a short ruling refused the applications of the defendants “In view of the fact that justice in criminal cases is not just for the complainants and the prosecution but for the society at large.”

She said further that the cost of N5000 “should be paid by the prosecution into the coffers of the court for the waste of tax payers’ money used in running the court.”

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