A Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday adjourned till February 13 for continuation of trial of a former aide to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Warampo-Owei Dudafa, who is facing fraud charges.
Mr. Dudafa was charged alongside one Iwejuo Joseph Nna (alias Taiwo A. Ebenezer and Olugbenga Isaiah) before Justice Mohammed Idris on 23-counts of conspiracy and concealment of crime proceeds.
They are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The allegations against the accused border on conspiring to conceal proceeds of crime amounting to over N1.6 billion on June 11, 2013.
They pleaded not guilty to all the counts.
At the resumed hearing of the case on Tuesday, the EFCC lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, continued with the cross-examination of Mr. Dudafa in a trial-within-trial.
A trial-within-trial is conducted in a case to determine the voluntariness of an accused’s statement.
In his response to one of the questions from the EFCC counsel, Mr. Dudafa claimed that he was never offered administrative bail by the EFCC, while in its custody for 60 days.
He said: “I did not know whether or not I was offered administrative bail on the 18th of May, 2016. There was no time I was released on bail by the commission throughout the 60 days I was in detention”.
However, the EFCC’s lawyer later sought the admission of a document allegedly signed by Dudafa when he was offered administrative bail by the agency. The document was admitted by the court as an exhibit.
Mr. Dudafa also maintained that he was never remanded in EFCC’s custody, pursuant to a magistrate court’s order.
Mr. Oyedepo had asked him if he will be surprised to know that the commission actually secured an order from a magistrate court to detain him.
Meanwhile, the proceedings were halted following an objection raised by Mr. Dudafa’s lawyer to the admissibility of the remand order as an exhibit.
After entertaining arguments by both parties, Justice Idris adjourned to February 13 for ruling on the admissibility of the document and for continuation of the trial-within-trial.
In the charge, the accused were alleged to have concealed N1.6 billion through a company, Seagate Property Development and Investment Ltd.
The offence is said to have contravened the provisions of Sections 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.
They were also accused of knowingly concealing proceeds of crime through Avalon Global Property Development Company Ltd, in the sum of over N390 million, among others.
It was alleged that Dudafa, between June 1 and June 4, 2015, procured Nna and Ebiwise Resources to conceal N150 million being proceeds of crime.
Other companies allegedly used in laundering the money include Pluto Property And Investment Company Ltd, Rotato Inter Link Services Ltd and De Jakes Fast Food and Restaurant Nigeria Ltd.