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Court strikes out N1.7 bn loan fraud case against businessman

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An Ikeja Special Offences Court on Tuesday struck out a suit against a businessman,  Edward Akinlade, charged with N1.7 billion loan fraud.

Reports have it that Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,(EFCC) arraigned Akinlade alongside his company, Suru Homes Ltd, on a 10-count charge bordering on theft and issuance of dud cheques.

He pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo, in her ruling, said that the case was at the discretion of the court and not of EFCC, following a letter dated June 1,“ titled “Terms of Settlement”, initiated by the complainant to settle with the defendant’’.

The letter of withdrawal was tendered to court on June 17.

“The prosecution counsel has informed the court that he is not aware of the resolution of this matter despite being copied with the letter of authority of withdrawal from the complainant and that he did not concede to the withdrawal of this case.

“He said he did not have the authority of his office to withdraw the case.

“However, on the authority of FRN v Onnogen, the Supreme Court held that the complainant can withdraw his matter in any case that is not criminal such as murder and armed robbery without the consent of the state or EFCC as the case may be.

“This is a civil case of stealing and issuance of dud cheque. In the light of the foregoing, I hereby strike out this case and the defendant is accordingly discharged’’, the judge ruled.

The defence counsel, Mr Pedro Lawal, SAN,  had informed the court of an application for striking out the case, based on letter of withdrawal by Fidelity Bank, the complainant in the suit.

“The copy of the letter has been filed before the court and same has been served on the EFCC.

“I rely on section 261 of ACJL of Lagos State and section 355 of ACJA that the defendant should be discharged.

“To also confirm the position my lord, we have a representative of the bank, Mr Chukwuebuka Nweka,” Lawal said.

Reports have it that Nweka, a representative of the bank, confirmed to the court that the parties had settled and written to the EFCC over the dispute resolutions and asked the Commission to withdraw charges against the defendant.

The EFCC counsel, Mr Temitope Banjo, however, told the court that the commission was not carried along with the resolution.

“Pursuant to the complaint, EFCC carried out an investigation and it is quite unfortunate that we were not carried along with the resolution.

“I do not have the authority to withdraw the charges, i am leaving it at the discretion of the court,” Banjo said.

The EFCC counsel, however, confirmed to the court that it was on record that the head of the commission, head of legal and himself had the copy of the letter of withdrawal.

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