The scheduled re-arraignment of a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesina Amosun (Rtd.) for an alleged N21bn fraud before Justice C.J. Aneke of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos could not go on today, Tuesday, November 6, 2018, as the defence raised issues over the move by the prosecution to amend the charge against the defendants.
Amosu was being prosecuted alongside Air Vice Marshal Jacob Bola Adigun, a former Chief of Account and Budgeting, and Air Commodore Gbadebo Owodunni, a former Director of Finance and Budgeting , on a 23-count charge of conspiracy, stealing, money laundering, concealing of proceeds of crime and conversion of funds belonging to the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, to the their personal use.
The defendants were charged with seven companies namely Delfina Oil and Gas Limited, Mc Allan Oil and Gas Limited, Hebron Holding and Properties Company Limited, Trapezite BDC, Funds and Pricey Limited, Deegee Oil and Gas Limited, Timsegg Investment Limited and Solomon Healthcare Limited.
However, at today's sitting, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, prayed the court to read out an amended 13-count charge to the defendants: Air Marshall Adesina Amosu (rtd.), Air Vice Marshal Jacob Bola Adigun and Air Commodore Gbadebo Owodunni Olugbenga .
One of the counts reads: "That you, Air Marshal Adesola Amosun Nunayon (RTD) Air Vice Marshal Jacob Bola Adigun and Air Commodore Gbadebo Owodunni Olugbenga, on or about the 5th day of March, 2014 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honorable court conspired amongst yourselves to convert the total sum of N21,467,634,707.43(Twenty One Billion, Four Hundred and sixty seven Million, Six Hundred and Thirty Four Thousand, seven Hundred and Seven Naira, forty three Kobo), property of the Nigerian Air Force which you sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of proceeds of your unlawful activities to wit: criminal breach of trust, and hereby Committed an offence contrary to section 18(a) of the Money Laundering ( prohibition) Act, 2011( as amended) and punishable under section 15(3) of the same Act."
Oyedepo argued that the amended charge had been served on all the parties, particularly as the case would be starting de novo.
However, counsels to the first defendant, Bolaji Ayorinde, SAN, stated that parties that are no longer part of the amended charge should be withdrawn and acquitted before the amended charge could be read to the defendants.
Counsels to the other defendants also submitted that since the prosecution had sought to amend the charge and had withdrawn some other parties that were in the previous charge, those parties should also be acquitted.
The defence counsels, therefore, urged the court to invoke Section 355 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, and "give the old charge a descent burial before dealing with the amended charge."
In his response, the prosecution counsel informed the court that there was no application of withdrawal before the court.
He further said that "Section 355 of ACJA is not applicable in this context.
"My Lord, the defence counsels cannot reap the benefits of this section.
"In view of the case starting de novo and no application for withdrawal is before the court, I urge my Lordship to assume jurisdiction and allow the defendants to take their pleas."
Consequently, Justice Aneke adjourned the case to November 13 and 14, 2018 for ruling and continuation of trial.
Media & Publicity
6th November, 2018