By Davidson Iriekpen
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday closed its case against Mr. Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie, lawyer to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and his brother, Mr. Erhunse Giwa-Osagie, who are being prosecuted before the Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos, for allegedly laundering $2 million.
Uyiekpen, a senior lawyer in the firm of Africa Law Practices (ALP) and his brother, Erhunse, were brought before the court, presided over by Justice Cbukwujekwu Aneke, on a three-count charge bordering on conspiracy and money laundering.
The offences, according to the EFCC, contravened 18(c), 18(a), 1(a), 16(1), (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 16, 16(2)(b)16(2)(b) of the same Act.
The Giwa-Osagies had pleaded not guilty to the charge.
During their trial, the prosecution had called its witnesses and tendered documents, which were admitted as exhibits by the court.
At the resumed trial of the defendants, EFCC counsel, Uduak Kufre, told Justice Aneke that the commission is closing its case against the Giwa-Osagies.
Following the submission made by the prosecutor, the defendants’ counsel, Mr. Norrison Quakers (SAN), made an oral application for a no-case-submission, on behalf of his clients.
Quakers, however, told the court that the application for the no-case-submission would be filed and that same would be served on the prosecution.
He, therefore, asked the court for a short date, for the adoption of written addresses on the application.
By the consent of the prosecutor and defendants’ counsel, Justice Aneke adjourned the matter till January 15, for the adoption of the written addresses on the ‘no-case-submission’.
Uyiekpen and his younger brother, Erhunse, were first arraigned before Justice Nicholas Oweibo on August 14, 2019, during the court’s vacation, on a three-count charge.
But they had pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Upon resumption from the vacation, their case filed was reassigned to the court presided over by Justice Chuka Obiozor, where their pleas were taken again on the same three-count charge.
However, when their trial was about to commence before Justice Obiozor, their lawyers, Ahmed Raji and Norrison Quakers, both Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), brought an application before the court for the consolidation of the charges with that of Atiku’s son-in-law, Abdullahi Babalele, who was being tried before Justice Aneke.
Babalele was standing trial before Justice Aneke for allegedly laundering $140,000.
Lawyers to Giwa-Osagies had told Justice Obiozor that a letter had been written to the court’s chief registrar for the consolidation of the charge with Babalele.
After their pleas were taken, Justice Obiozor returned the case file to the court’s registry and it was subsequently reassigned to Justice Aneke.
Meanwhile, upon the reassignment of the case file to Justice Aneke, the judge fixed January 14, 2020, for the re-arraignment of Giwa Osagie brothers.
The EFCC in a charge numbered number FHC/L/283c/19, had alleged that Uyiekpen and his brother was alleged to have on February 12, 2019, conspired among themselves and make a cash payment of $2 million without going through financial institutions.
In the charge, Uyiekpen, was alleged to have procured Erhunse to make the cash payment without recourse to financial institutions.