Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of a Federal High Court, Abuja, has sent the case file of the former Accountant-General of the Federation, Jonah Otunla to the Chief Judge for reassignment.
The development followed the transfer of the trial judge to the Asaba Division of the Federal High Court, and the repeated absence of Otunla to appear before the Court to take his plea.
Otunla was to be arraigned along with Ade Adelakun and seven companies for an alleged N2 billion fraud, before Justice Dimgba on December 7, 2017 on a five-count charge, but his absence caused the trial to be adjourned.
His absence, has however, caused several adjournments, until the transfer of the trial judge.
One of the counts reads: “That you, Jonah Ogunniyi Otunla, being the former Accountant General of the Federation and a Director and signatory to the ECOBANK account of Wehsac Farm Ltd, Otunba Ade Adelakun, being the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer and a signatory to the accounts of Gold Reef Industries Nigeria Limited Fidelity Bank, Lambster Nigeria Limited- Zenith Bank, G.C Electronics Ltd - GTB and Sinmilak Nigeria Limited- Fidelity Account, Col Bello Fadile (now at large) being the former Director, Special Duties in the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and also a Director and signatory to the accounts of Helpline Organisation- Diamond Bank and Justice and Peace Consultants- GTB, sometime between June and August, 2013 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, directly converted the sum of N2 billion, transferred to the accounts of Goldreef Industries Limited-Fidelity Bank (N550 million), Lambster Nigeria Limited- Zenith Bank (N650 million), G.C Electronics Limited - GTB (N450 million) and Sinmilak Nigeria Limited- Fidelity Account (N350 million) from the account of the Office of the National Security Adviser with the Central Bank of Nigeria, purporting to be for the supply of security equipment when you reasonably ought to have known that the said fund formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful activity of Col Mohammed Sambo Dasuki (Rtd) the then National Security Adviser (to wit: criminal breach of trust and corruption) and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 (2)(b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended in 2012 and punishable under Section 15 (3) and (4) of the same Act.”
At the resumed sitting today, February 7, 2019, prosecuting counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, informed the court that “it will be better to transfer the matter back to the Chief Judge since the case was yet to feature, due to the handicap of the prosecution to bring Otunla before the court of justice”.
Defence counsel, Ahmed Raji, SAN raised no objections.
Tahir further informed the court that he had received an affidavit from solicitors of Adelakun, now late, attached to his death certificate to further reaffirm that he had died, and so could no longer stand trial.
“The only possible person to be charged is Otunla, and someone from Goldreef Industries Nigeria Limited, Lambster Nigeria Limited, G.C. Electronics and Sinmilak Nigeria Limited, companies of the second defendant, who will have to stand in for the companies,” he added.
Justice Dimgba, thereafter, ruled that: “This matter is hereby sent back to the Honourable Chief Judge for reassignment to any of the judges based in Abuja Division for reassignment in view of the special circumstance of this case."
Media & Publicity
February 7, 2019