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EFCC seeks court order to arrest ex-NDDC boss

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has approached a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos State, seeking a court warrant of arrest for a former Executive Director on Projects, Niger Delta Development Commission, Tuoyo Omatsuli, over an alleged N3.6bn fraud case.

The anti-graft agency revealed that its reason for approaching the court was to compel Omatsuli to attend his trial over the money laundering allegation.

The commission noted that Omatsuli and his co-defendants, rather than opening their defence, filed a no-case submission, which was heard on October 12, 2020, after the EFCC called 16 prosecution witnesses, and subsequently closed its case against the defendants for them to open their defence.

The spokesperson for the EFCC, Dele Oyewale, revealed the development in a statement on Thursday.

Oyewale said, “The EFCC, on Wednesday, January 31, 2024, prayed Justice Daniel Osiagor of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos to issue a warrant of arrest to compel a former Executive Director on Projects, Niger Delta Development Commission,  Tuoyo Omatsuli, to attend his trial over an alleged N3.6bn fraud.

“Omatsuli, alongside Francis Momoh, Don Parker Properties Limited and Building Associates Limited, were initially standing trial on an alleged case of conspiracy and money laundering to the tune of N3,645,000,000 before retired Justice Saliu Saidu of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos.”

One of the counts read, “That you, Tuoyo Omatsuli, Don Parker Properties Limited, Francis Momoh and Building Associates Limited, between August 2014 and September 2015 at Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, conspired to disguise the illegal origin of N3,645,000,000, being proceeds of unlawful activity to wit: corruption and gratification; and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18 of the Money Laundering Act 2011 as amended by Act No 1 of 2012 and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.”

Another count read, “That you, Tuoyo Omatsuli, between August 2014 and September 2015 at Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, did procure Francis Momoh and Building Associates Limited to use the total sum of N3,645,000,000 paid by Starline Consultancy Services into the Diamond Bank Plc Account No. 0023785116 operated by Building Associate Ltd, when you reasonably ought to have known that the said sum formed part of the proceeds of your unlawful activity to wit: Corruption and Gratification; and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18 of the Money Laundering Act 2011 as amended by Act No 1 of 2012 and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.”

He, however, noted that they pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against them.

Oyewale added, “The EFCC, after calling 16 prosecution witnesses, subsequently closed its case against the defendants.  However, rather than open their defence, the defendants filed a no-case submission, which was heard on October 12, 2020.

“In his ruling on November 11, 2020, Justice Saidu discharged the first defendant, Omatsuli, saying, ‘I have gone through the charge preferred against the defendants as well as the evidence of all the 16 prosecution witnesses and I found no reason for the first defendant to enter the defence’.”

He further revealed that the EFCC appealed the ruling, adding that the Court of Appeal, on April 13, 2022, upheld the appeal of the EFCC, and dismissed the earlier ruling of the trial court.

Oyewale noted, “Consequently, the EFCC vowed to appeal the discharge of the former NDCC boss.  On April 13, 2022, a three-man panel of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division,  upheld the appeal of the EFCC and dismissed the ruling of the trial court.

“The judgment delivered by Justice Festus Ogbuinya held that the ruling of the lower court dated November 11, 2020, discharging the respondent, Omatsuli, of the money laundering charges ‘is hereby set aside and he shall enter into his defence accordingly on the same counts.

“The Appellate Court, however, discharged Omatsuli on counts 27, 28 and 29 of the charge. In the course of the trial, Justice Saidu retired and the matter was subsequently re-assigned to Justice Osiagor.”

He noted that at the resumed sitting on Wednesday, counsel for the second defendant, Norrison Quakers, SAN informed the court that Omatsuli was absent in court because he had an appeal pending before the Supreme Court.

The post EFCC seeks court order to arrest ex-NDDC boss first appeared on Nigeria Newspapers Online.