N25Bn Scam: Judge Convicts Igbinedion, Goje Knows Fate Soon
Justice J. Liman of the Federal High Court Benin, Edo State, has convicted Michael Igbinedion, younger brother to Lucky Igbinedion, former Edo State governor, and Charles Eboigbodin . The duo alongside their companies; Gava Corporation Limited; Romrig Nigeria Limited; PML Securities Company Limited and PML Nigeria Limited, were prosecuted on an 81-count charge of money laundering, misappropriation of funds and abuse of office brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The convicts had pleaded not guilty when they were arraigned, setting the stage for a full trail. In the course of trial, the prosecution called several witnesses to prove its case.
One of them, Mr. Ajoyo Sowale, an Accounts Officer with the Guaranty Trust Bank, identified various account statements and account opening documents of the convicts and confirmed to the court that several lodgments were made into the accounts, and that he printed the account statements and got them certified by the appropriate authority.
The parties adopted their written addressed in November14, 2014 , while judgment was fixed for December 1, 2014. But a series of adjournments delayed the delivery of the ruling till April 29.
When justice Liman finally delivered his ruling today, he found the two accused persons guilty on some of the counts. The judge convicted Eboigbodin for money laundering on counts 50-59, while Igbinedion was pronounced guilty as charged on counts 79-81.
The judge however deferred the sentencing of the convicts till tomorrow April 30, 2015.
Meantime, the trial of a former governor of Gombe State, Senator Danjuma Goje, along with three others, who are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on charges bordering on conspiracy and money laundering, before Justice B. O. Quadri of the Federal High Court, Gombe, continued on April 29, 2015 with the prosecution presenting more evidence against the accused persons.
Prosecution counsel, Wahab Shittu, presented documents to prove the alleged fraudulent transactions carried out between 2003 and 2011.
Accepted by the court as exhibits J and K, they showed suspicious transactions with respect to the supply of food items to the Government House, and supply of books to schools in the state through the State Universal Basic Education Board, SUBEB, during the period in question.
A mild drama however, ensued in the court , as the defence counsel, Chris Uche,SAN, asserted that he wanted to probe into the details of the contents of the exhibit.
Shittu had cautioned Uche, to “stop lecturing the court on issues that are not related to the charges against the accused person.”
But Uche, SAN who insisted that it was his right and responsibility to cross-examine the prosecution witness, subsequently questioned the witness, stressing that he needed detailed analysis of the exhibits tendered.
Justice Quadri adjourned the case till July 2 and 3, 2015 for continuation of trial.