LAGOS – A Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday fixed Feb. 11 and Feb. 12 for the trial of a former Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Tuoyo Omatsuli, and others, charged with alleged N3.6 billion fraud.
Other co-defendants in the case are Don Parker Properties Ltd, Francis Momoh and Building Associates Ltd, as second, third and fourth accused, respectively.
They were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on a 45-count charge, bordering on corruption, gratification, fraud and money laundering.
At their earlier arraignment, the accused had pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bails in the sum of N100 million each with two sureties each in like sum.
The court had then adjourned for trial.
On Tuesday, the prosecutor, Mr Ekene Iheanacho, informed the court that he was prepared to go on, as his witnesses were in court.
However, Mr Norisson Quakers (SAN), appearing for the second, third and fourth accused, applied for a variation of the bail conditions as one of the sureties was yet to be verified.
Besides, the defence counsel informed the court that the third accused came to court with the aid of crutches as a result of his bad legs and sought an adjournment of the case to a further date.
The prosecutor, however, opposed the request for adjournment, saying that one of the sureties, who is a civil servant, was yet to be verified.
He also argued that the third accused only had a bad leg which did not hinder his ability to hear and listen to proceedings.
In the light of the submissions made before the court, Justice Salisu Saidu held that it was obvious that the condition of the leg of the accused was bad.
He said that on that premise and based on the partial perfection of his bail, the court would grant an adjournment.
The court, consequently, adjourned the case until Feb. 11 and 12 for trial, and urged that the accused did everything possible to perfect his bail before the next date.
According to the charge, the accused were alleged to have committed the offences between August 2014 and September 2015.
The first accused was said to have procured the third and fourth accused (Momoh and Building Associates) to utilise a total sum of N3.6 billion paid by Starline Consultancy Services Ltd into an account operated by fourth accused.
The prosecution said that they ought to have known that the said sums, formed part of the proceeds of their unlawful activities which includes corruption and gratification.
The offences contravenes the provisions of Sections 15(1), 15(2), 15(3) and 18 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011, as amended by Act No 1 of 2012.