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Saturday, October 16, 2021

N570m Fraud Trial: Judge faults freezing Oyo-Ita, others accounts

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Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday expressed displeasure over an order allegedly obtained secretly by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to freeze the bank accounts of some of co-defendants of former Head of Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita, with whom she is facing N570m fraud charges.

Following protests by the defense lawyers, it turned out to be that the anti-graft agency obtained the interim forfeiture order from another judge of the Federal High Court, Abuja, Justice Folashade-Giwa, without the knowledge of Justice Taiwo.

Aside Oyo-Ita, the other defendants in the case include Frontline Ace Global Services Limited and Asanaya Projects Limited, Garba Umar, his two companies, Slopes International Limited and Gooddeal Investment Limited, who are the 2nd to 6th defendants in the case.

The rest, who are the 7th to 9th defendants are Ubong Okon Effiok, his two companies, U & U Global Services Ltd and Prince Mega Logistics Ltd.

The prosecuting counsel, Mohammed Abubakar, had at the resumed hearing on Tuesday, indicated that the prosecution was ready for continuation of trial.

But the defense lawyers opposed the request for continuation of trial.

Oyo-Ita’s counsel, Paul Erokoro (SAN), described as a sad development that the EFCC bypassed the court to have the bank accounts of the 4th to 6th defendants frozen.

The defense counsel to the 5th and 6th defendants, Chitoo Mbama, who also confirmed that her clients’ accounts were frozen by the anti-graft agency, urged the court to adjourn the matter indefinitely until defendants’ accounts were unfrozen.

The counsel for the 7th, 8th and 9th defendants, Okechukwu Ajunwa, aligned himself with the application for an indefinite adjournment of the case.

But while trying to exonerate the EFCC, the prosecuting counsel, Abubakar, noted that the commission had only filed the application for interim forfeiture as a civil suit at the court’s registry, but that it was the Chief Judge who assigned it to Justice Giwa-Ogunbanjo.

While he apologized to the judge, he also maintained that the EFCC had confidence in the court.

Justice Taiwo adjourned till December 3 for ruling.

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