…As EFCC asks court to order Naira Marley to remove Red Bag from dock***
Justice Olukayode Adeniyi of an FCT High Court in Apo, on Tuesday adjourned the trial of the former Director General, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Bature Masari, until Dec. 12 .
The judge adjourned the case pending the ruling of another matter in the Federal High court on Nov. 27, to determine if the defendant can be tried twice on the same charge simultaneously.
The counsel to the defendant, Mamudu Magaji, informed the court that Masari was also standing trial before Justice Okon Abang of a Federal High Court, Abuja, on the same charge filed by the EFCC.
He further told the court that the same witnesses and evidences were being used to try the case.
Magaji however said Justice Abang is to deliver a ruling to determine if both EFCC and ICPC can try him on the same charge.
Masari , was on Tuesday re-arraigned before the Court, over alleged N189.6 million money laundering.
He pleaded not guilty to the 25 counts, bordering on misappropriation, embezzlement and money laundering.
He was arraigned by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
The ICPC Counsel, George Lawal, had told the court that the defendant committed the alleged offence in 2014 while serving as the director-general of SMEDAN.
Lawal, said the defendant while in office received N50 million from Engineering Service and Hamshakim Ventures through his GTB account number 0022506116 as gratification for contracts award.
The prosecutor also said that the defendant collected another N20 million from Afrifarmers and Allied products consult Limited for award of contract.
He said the offences contravened the provisions of Sections 10(a)(i) and punishable under section 10(a)(ii) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.
In the meantime, the EFCC on Tuesday prayed a Federal High Court in Lagos to order `a red bag’ belonging to popular Nigerian Musician, Azeez Fashola a.k.a Naira Marley, be removed from his possession in the dock.
The defendant had in a case preferred against him by EFCC entered the witness box with a long small red bag, hanging across his left shoulder down to his right waist.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had preferred an 11-count charge against the musician bordering on conspiracy, possession of counterfeit cards and fraud.
Also mentioned in the charge is one Yad Isril, who is said to still be at large.
The “Am I a Yahoo Boy” musician, was arraigned on May 20 before Justice Nicholas Oweibo, however denied the charges.
Following a bail application by defence counsel, Mr Olalekan Ojo (SAN), the court had granted Fashola bail in the sum of N2 million with sureties in like sum.
The trial of the defendant, which was earlier fixed for Oct. 21, was adjourned until today (Oct. 22).
Mr Rotimi Oyedepo announced his appearance for the EFCC while Mr Olalekan Ojo (SAN) announced his appearance for the defendant.
Oyedepo urged the court to order the defendant to remove the bag in his possession from the dock.
According to Oyedepo, the defendant is expected to appear before the court “unfettered”.
Before the court could make any pronouncement, the defendant quickly removed the bag.
Meanwhile, trial in the suit could not proceed, following an application by defence counsel (Ojo).
Defence had urged Justice Oweibo to halt proceedings until a motion he filed this morning was determined.
In the motion, the defendant prayed the court to compel the EFCC to furnish him with the prosecution’s witnesses’ statements.
He prayed the court to hear his motion before the prosecution called its first witness.
But, EFCC counsel (Oyedepo) opposed the application for adjournment.
According to him, the prosecution is not in possession of the required document, adding that the defence is not entitled to the statements as of right.
In a bench ruling, however, Justice Oweibo granted the request by defence.
Ojo moved the motion and again, Oyedepo opposed him.
After hearing the motion, the court ordered the EFCC to provide the defence with its investigators’ statements, if any.
He adjourned trial until Oct. 23.
According to the charge, the defendant allegedly committed the offences on different dates between Nov. 26, Dec.11, 2018, and May 10.
The charge alleged that Fashola and his accomplices conspired to use different Access Bank ATM Cards to defraud their victims.
It said that the defendant allegedly used Access Card number 5264711020433662 issued to another person, in a bid to obtain fraudulent financial gains.
He was said to have possessed these counterfeit credit cards, belonging to different cardholders, with intent to defraud, which also amounted to theft.
The offences contravenes the provisions of Sections 1 23 (1) (b), 27 (1}, 33, 33(9) Cyber Crime (Prohibition) Prevention Act, 2015.