Alleged N320m fraud: Rep Mutu’s defence opening suffers setback

Rep Nicolas Mutu (Delta-PDP)
Rep Nicolas Mutu (Delta-PDP)

 

The plan by Rep Nicolas Mutu (Delta-PDP) to open his defence, on Wednesday, in the alleged N320 million money laundering charge preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) suffered setback at the Federal High Court, Abuja.

The matter, which was listed as number one on the cause list before Justice Folashade Giwa-Ogunbanjo, could not proceed due to the Ill-health of Mutu’s counsel, Patrick Ikwueto, SAN.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the EFCC had, in the 13-count amended charge, sued Mutu along with Airworld Technologies Ltd and Oyien Homes Ltd as 1st to 3rd defendants respectively.

In the second amended charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/123/2019, dated Nov. 22, 2021 and filed Nov. 23, 2021, the defendants pleaded not guilty to the counts.

Mutu waa alleged to have committed the alleged offences between Aug. 2014 and Aug. 2016 when he served as the chairman of the House of Representatives’ Committee on the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

In the charge, he was accused of procuring “Airworld Technologies Ltd to conceal of the sum of N320,159, 689.63 to be paid by Starline Consultancy Services Ltd” when he ought to have known that the said sum formed part of proceeds of corruption, gratification and fraudulent acquisition of property.

When the matter was called on Wednesday, Mutu, who represents Bomadi/Patani Federal Constituency of Delta was in court but his lawyer, Ikwueto, was conspicuously absent and no lawyer represented him in the courtroom.

However, counsel for the 2nd defendant, J.O. Asoluga, SAN, was in court.

The EFCC’s lawyer, Ekele Iheanacho, informed the court that the matter was scheduled for the defendants to enter their defence but that he was in receipt of a letter earlier in the morning from Ikwueto who had been appearing for Mutu and the 3rd defendant that he was indisposed.

Iheanacho said in the letter, a medical report from University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, was also attached.

The lawyer said Ikwueto, in the letter, sought an adjournment of the case and also for the court to vacate tomorrow (Feb. 22)’s date to enable him attend to his health.

Iheanacho said he would reluctantly conceded to adjournment on the ground of Ill-health.

He, however, felt bad that the two days scheduled for the trial would be vacated even when the court had deliberately listed only two matters on the course list to enable the case progress since the judge comes from outside jurisdiction.

Counsel for the 2nd defendant, J.O. Asoluga, SAN, said he had no objection to the application for adjournment.

Justice Giwa-Ogunbanjo consequently adjourned the matter until March 20 and March 21 for the defendants to open their defence.

NAN reports that the judge had, on Jan. 22, fixed Feb. 21 and Feb. 22 for Mutu to open his defence after his no-case submission was dismissed by the court.

Giwa-Ogunbanjo, in a ruling, directed Mutu and his co-defendants to enter their defence as they have a case to answer in respect of the allegations made against them.(NAN)

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