Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Monday arraigned a Deputy Director, Account and Finance in the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Babatunde Osho, before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on a 41-count charge, bordering on forgery, fraudulent acquisition of properties and money laundering to the tune of N700 million.
Osho was accused of diverting the said money, meant for constituency projects and awarded same to his personal companies.
According to a release by the Acting Head of Media and Publicity, Tony Orilade, the Deputy Director was arraigned alongside Midset Agro Services Limited, Just Fair Investment Limited, and Tufik Associates, companies he is signatories to.
Orilade said investigations into the matter revealed that no contracts were executed by the defendants.
He added that when he (Osho) was asked why the money was diverted into his account, Osho who equally owns Primary and Secondary School, Royal Field Academy in Ogun State, made available forged documents to mislead the commission into believing that the contract was actually awarded to his companies.
One of the counts reads: “That you Babatunde Osho and Just Fair Investment Limited between April 2017 and May 2018 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, used the total sum of N120,700,000 (One Hundred And Twenty Million, Seven Hundred Thousand Naira) when you ought to have known that the said N120,700,000 paid into the FCMB Account No. 4342993012 represents proceeds of unlawful activity of Babatunde Osho to wit: Forgery and Fraudulent Acquisition of Property and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 as amended by Act No. 1 of 2012 and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act”.
He pleaded not guilty to all the counts.
In view of his plea, the prosecution counsel, E. E. Iheanacho, prayed the court for a trial date and for the defendant to be remanded in prison custody.
The defence counsel, Abah John Augustine, informed the court of their bail application, which was heard and the court granted him bail.
The defendant was granted bail in the sum of N100 million with two sureties in like sum.
The court further ruled that the sureties shall be residents in Abuja and one shall have a landed property within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
One of the sureties shall be a civil servant not below the rank of a Deputy Director; the sureties shall show evidence of tax payment.
The court also ruled that the defendant shall deposit his international passport with the registrar of the court and shall not travel outside the country without the permission of the court, obtained through a motion on notice.
The defendant was remanded in Kuje prison, pending the fulfilment of his bail conditions.
The matter was thereafter adjourned to February 1, 2019, for commencement of trial.