N77m Fraud: Court Dismisses Application To Discharge Ex-Oyo Commissioner

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A Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday, dismissed an oral application made by counsel to Kazeem Adedeji, former Commissioner for Trade, Investment and Cooperative in Oyo State to discharge him of alleged N77 million fraud.

Adedeji is standing trial alongside Yinka Fatoki, a former director in the ministry and Kolawole Adewole a staff. They are facing a six-count charge, bordering on conspiracy and N77 million fraud.

Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke, dismissed the application, after Mr Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), counsel to Adedeji, informed the court of a letter written by the prosecutor, Mr. Effiong Asuquo, stating that he was indisposed.

Aneke, in his ruling, refused to dismiss the charge, saying that he would give the prosecution one more chance before reaching a decision.

Earlier, Oyetibo told the court that the reasons adduced by the prosecutor for his absence, were flimsy and a deliberate attempt to evade conducting trial.

“My lord, when this case came up on Oct. 11 for argument of the bail of the accused, the prosecutor also deliberately refused to appear in court even though he was seen in the court premises.

“This court also ordered that the prosecution furnishes the defence with proof of evidence within seven days, but up till this moment, no processes has been received from the prosecution.

“The prosecutor claims he is indisposed, but there is no medical certificate to that effect before your lordship.

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“I therefore urge this court to invoke the provisions of Sections 80 of the Criminal Procedure Act, and dismiss the charge against the accused,” Oyetibo said.

This submission was also affirmed by Mr. Olalekan Olanisebe and Mr. Olabode Iranloye, counsel to the second and third accused, respectively.

The accused were arraigned on October 3 and had each pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The court granted them bail in the sum of N10 million each with two sureties each in like sum.

The prosecutor had alleged that the accused committed the offence between July 2012 and June 2013.

The offence is said to contravene the provisions of Sections 1(1), 1(3) (a) and 8 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, Cap A6, Laws of the Federation, 2004.

The offence attracts not less than 20 years imprisonment, if convicted.

—Akin Kuponiyi