Absence of Judge Stalls Saraki’s Aide’s N3.5bn Fraud Trial

Bukola Saraki

The absence of Justice Babs Kuewumi Tuesday stalled the continuation of the trial of Gbenga Makanjuola, an aide to Senate President Bukola Saraki charged with N3.5 billion fraud.

The continuation of the trial could not hold before a Federal High Court in Lagos as earlier scheduled because Kuewumi was away on an official duty.

The court consequently adjourned the hearing until January 10, 2019.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had preferred an 11-count fraud charge against Makanjuola, a Deputy Chief of Staff to Saraki; Melrose General Services Ltd; and Obiorah Amobi, (Operations Manager at Melrose).

Also charged are Kolawole Shittu, (a cashier) and Robert Chidozie, who is said to be “at large’’.

The accused, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges, and were admitted to bails in the sum of N250 million each with sureties in like sums.

In the charge, the accused were alleged to have committed the offence in December 2016.

They were accused of conspiring to disguise the unlawful origin of the sum of N3.5 billion paid into the account of Melrose.

According to the prosecution, the accused took control of the sum which was transferred from the Nigeria Governors Forum’s account, into an Access Bank account operated by Melrose.

The prosecution said that the accused ought to have known that the sum represented proceeds of unlawful activities.

The offence contravened the provisions of sections 15, 15 (2), 15 (3), 18, and 18 (a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Amendment Act 2011. (NAN)