N3.6bn Fraud: Ex-NDDC Director Gets Medical Trip Leave

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A former Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Francis Momoh, standing trial for alleged N3.6 billion fraud, yesterday secured leave of a Federal High Court in Lagos to undergo medical trip overseas.
Momoh alongside Tuoyo Omatsuli and two companies, Don Parker Properties Ltd. and Building Associates Ltd. are being tried for alleged fraud.
On November 28 last year, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned the defendants on a 45-count charge, bordering on corruption, gratification, fraud and money laundering. The prosecution alleged that the defendants committed the offences between August, 2014 and September, 2015.
The first defendant (Omatsuli) was said to have secured the services of the third and fourth defendants (Momoh and Building Associates) to utilise a sum of N3.6 billion paid by Starline Consultancy Services Ltd. into the fourth defendant’s account.
The prosecution alleged that both third and fourth defendants ought to have known that the said sums, formed part of the proceeds of their unlawful activities, which includes corruption and gratification.
The offences, according to the prosecution, contravene 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. The court had granted the defendants bail after they pleaded not guilty to the offences.
At the resumed hearing on Tuesday, Mr George Chia-yakua, appeared for the prosecution, while Messrs A. Aguda-Kehinde and Norrison Quakers, both senior advocates, appeared for the defendants.
Quakers informed the court of a pending affidavit of extreme urgency, dated Feb. 6, which specifically related to the health condition of Momoh, the third defendant.
Moving his motion, Quakers told the court that he served the prosecution with his application, who in turn had filed a counter affidavit to which a counter response had also been filed by him.
He told the court that attached to his application were three photo exhibits, a written address as well as a further affidavit.
Quakers urged the court to grant his reliefs since the third defendant, who was granted administrative bail by the EFCC, had punctually reported to the commission for 13 months without fail.
The defence counsel, who argued that his client had also been able to perfect the court’s bail conditions, adopted his written arguments and urged the court to grant the defendant’s application for medical travel abroad.
In his response, Chia-yakua raised objection to the application on the grounds that the deponent of the affidavit did not affix a seal and stamp as a legal practitioner.
Citing order 10 Rule 3 of the Rules of Professional Conduct for legal practitioners, Chia-yakua argued that the failure to affix the seal was a fundamental error and urged the court to refuse the defendant’s request.
He further argued that the application was a ploy to stall trial in the case, adding that the defendant could get medical help in any of the university teaching hospitals in Nigeria.
Justice Saliu Saidu in his ruling held that he was satisfied that the defendant’s application was properly before the court and that only a living person could stand trial.