A Federal High Court in Abuja presided over by Justice A. Y. Mohammed, on Wednesday, May 27, 2015 adjourned the N19.2bn fraud case brought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, against a former governor of Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva till June 8, 2015.

Sylva along with Francis Okokwo, Gbenga Balogun, and Samuel Ogbuku, are allegedly to have used three companies – Marlin Maritime Limited, Eat Catering Services Limited, and Haloween-Blue Construction and Logistics Limited to move about N19.2 billion from Bayelsa State coffers between 2009 and 2012, under false pretence of using the withdrawn money to augment salaries of the state government workers.

At the resumption of proceedings on Wednesday, the court heard the two pending applications brought before it challenging the case. Counsel to Sylva, L. O. Fagbemi (SAN) had brought an application before the court praying that the charges be quashed, as “there is nothing cogent enough to connect Sylva to the charges.” Counsel to the fourth accused person, Ajayi Olowo, in his own application, challenged the jurisdiction of the court, arguing that since the case involved money belonging to the Bayelsa State government, “it amounts to abuse of court processes for the court to sit on the matter.”

Responding, Jacobs, told the court that there was indeed a prima facie case against Sylva and his co-accused, adding that because the money involved in the fraud case belonged to the Bayelsa State Government, was not a point to posit that the prosecution was abusing court process.

“It is not ownership of the money, in this case Bayelsa, that confers jurisdiction, but where the offences took place, which in this case was Abuja,” he said, adding that there were serious allegations involving the accused persons.

According to Jacobs, investigations revealed that: “The state’s Accountant General, received instructions from Sylva to withdraw several billions of Naira from the state’s account, which was given to Murtala Bashir who deals in the business of Bureau De Change.”

The Bureau De Change operator, Jacobs added, would in turn pay the dollar equivalent to the Accountant General and other aides of the government, who then handed over same to Sylva.

“In this process, over N6,781,000,000 was paid into the accounts of Murtala Bashir and his various companies, which were mostly exchanged for dollars and handed over to Sylva,” Jacobs said.

Justice Mohammed, after listening to arguments from both counsel, adjourned till June 8, 2015 to deliver his ruling on the applications and counter-affidavits.

Media & Publicity
27th May, 2015