The scheduled trial of Mr. Gbenga Makanjuola, a Deputy Chief of Staff to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, alongside two others over alleged N3.5 billion Paris Clubs loan scam, before the Federal High Court, Lagos, was stalled due to the transfer of the trial judge, Justice Bab Kuewumi.
At the resumed trial of Makanjuola alongside Obiora Amobi, Kolawole Shitu and a company allegedly used as conduit pipe in the said fraud, Melrose General Services Limited, Justice Kuewumi told the parties that he was not ready to commence the trial as he had been transferred to Sokoto Division of the court.
The judge, therefore, urged the parties to take a new date for the incoming judge to handle the matter.
Following the judge’s pronouncement, both the prosecution and the deference team agreed on March 13, for the commencement of the trial.
At the resumed hearing of the matter on Thursday, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) lawyer, Mr. Ekene Iheanacho, and defence teams which comprise K. T. Alowomi, Mr. Paul Erokoro (SAN) and Omeoga Chukwu, informed the court of their readiness to go on with the trial.
Though Mr. Erokoro informed the court that he had just been served with additional prove-of-evidence, he still told the court that he was ready to go on with the trial.
EFCC had on October 7, arraigned the defendants before the court on charges bordering on conspiracy, payment of some monies without going through financial institutions.
At their arraignment, the EFCC’s lawyer, Mr. Iheanacho, told the court that the three defendants, a limited company, Melrose General Services Limited, and one Robert Chidozie Mbonu (now at large), had sometime in December 2016, conspired among themselves to disguise the origin of the sum of N3.5 billion, which was paid into Melrose General Services Limited’s account with Access Bank Plc.
Iheanacho also told the court that the third accused, Obiora Amobi, who was the operation manager of Melrose General Services between December 15 and 17, 2016, made a cash payment of N300 million to Robert Mbonu (now at large) from the said N3.5 billion, without going through any financial institution.
It was also alleged that Makanjuola, and the cashier in the Senate President’s office, Shittu, had in December 2016, made cash payment totalling $1.5 million of $500, 000, on three tranches, between themselves without going through a financial institution.
The offences according to the EFCC were contrary to 18, 15(2)(d), 15(2)(b) 1(a) and 16(2)(b) of Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011, and punishable under Sections 15(3) and 16 (2)(b) of the same act.
All the accused had pleaded not guilty to all the counts of the charge and admitted to bail in the sum of N250 million each with two sureties in the same sum.