Alleged N1.4bn Fraud: Court Adjourns Arraignment Of NBA President

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A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has adjourned the arraignment of President of the Nigerian Bar Association, (NBA), Mr Paul Usoro.

The NBA boss appeared earlier in court today before Justice Muslim Hassan over N1.4billion fraud allegations filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commision (EFCC).

The arraignment, however, could not hold as the NBA President, through his defence team, told the court charge sheet had not been served on him.

The NBA President was represented by a team of lawyers led by a former president of the NBA, Wole Olanipekun.

EFCC Counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that the NBA President has been evading service of the charge.

Olanipekun said his client came to court on his own despite not being served with the charge sheet, adding that he was ready to accept the service of the charge sheet in the courtroom.

Olanipekun then urged the judge to direct the EFCC to serve his client the charge sheet. But the EFCC counsel resisted the move. He told the judge that he was not in a position to effect service in court especially as the charge sheet was with the Investigative Police Officer who was absent.

Justice Muslim Hassan, therefore, adjourned till December 18, for the arraignment. Justice Hassan said this is to enable the EFCC to serve Usoro with the charge sheet for the alleged offences.

Outside the court premises, operatives of the anti-graft agency moved to arrest Usoro but following the intervention of the EFCC counsel, the NBA President was invited to accompany the EFCC to their Lagos office. He was allowed to ride in his car with some lawyers.

The group then moved to the EFCC office where Usoro is expected to be served with the Charge Sheet.

Last week Wednesday, the EFCC had filed a 10 count of fraudulent conversion of N1.4bn against the President of NBA.

In the first count, the EFCC alleges that Mr Usoro, Governor Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom State (who currently enjoys constitutional immunity against criminal prosecution), the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for finance, Nsikan Nkan, the Accountant-General, Mfon Udomah, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice; Uwemedimo Nwoko and Margaret Ukpe, all of whom were said to be at large, conspired in 2015 to convert the sum of N1.4billion property of the Akwa Ibom State Government which they ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of crime.

The EFCC Counsel who signed the charge sheet, Mr Oyedepo, said the offences are contrary to Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011.

CTV


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