By Emmanuel Udom
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is set to appeal the ruling by Justice Saliu Saidu of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos discharging Tuoyo Omatsuli, a former executive director on Projects, Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, in the alleged N3.6bn fraud trial.
Wilson Uwujaren, head, media & publicity for the anti-graft agency sated that Tuoyo was facing trial alongside Francis Momoh, Don Parker Properties Limited and Building Associates Limited on an amended 45-count charge bordering on conspiracy and money laundering to the tune of N3.6million.
One of the counts reads: “That you, Engr Tuoyo Omatsuli, Don Parker Properties Limited, Francis Momoh and Building Associates Limited, between August 2014 and September 2015 at Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, conspired to disguise the illegal origin of N3.6million being proceed of unlawful activity to wit: corruption and gratification; and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18 of the Money Laundering Act 2011 as amended by Act No 1 of 2012 and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.”
Another count reads: “That you, Engr Tuoyo Omatsuli, between August 2014 and September 2015 at Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, did procure Francis Momoh and Building Associates Limited to use the total sum of N3,645,000,000 (Three Billion Six-Hundred and Forty-Five Million Naira) paid by Starline Consultancy Services into the Diamond Bank Plc Account No. 0023785116 operated by Building Associate Ltd, when you reasonably ought to have known that the said sum formed part of the proceeds of your unlawful activity to wit: Corruption and Gratification; and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18 of the Money Laundering Act 2011 as amended by Act No 1 of 2012 and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.”The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges.
In the course of the trial, the prosecuting counsel, Ekene Iheanacho, called 16 prosecution witnesses, the last being Segun Temitope, a staff of the Special Control Unit against Money Laundering, SCUML, who gave his testimony on July 7, 2020.
However, rather than open their defence, the defendants filed a no-case submission, which was heard on October 12, 2020, while ruling was reserved till November 11, 2020.
In his ruling today, the Judge discharged the first defendant, Tuoyo, saying, “I have gone through the charge preferred against the defendants as well as the evidence of all the 16 prosecution witnesses and I found no reason for the first defendant to enter the defence.“Accordingly, the first defendant is hereby discharged.”
The Judge, however, held that the other defendants had a case to answer.
“But the prosecution has made a case against the second defendant, Francis Momoh, which warrants him to enter his defence as well as other defendants.“Accordingly, I direct the second defendant to enter his defence,” the Judge further held.The case was adjourned till December 3, 2020.