Court of Appeal upturns conviction of companies allegedly linked to Jonathan
The Court of Appeal has voided the conviction of four companies linked by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC to Dr. Waripamo Owei Dudafa, former aide and associate to ex-President, Goodluck Jonathan.
The EFCC had claimed that the companies were holding funds allegedly belonging to Dame Patience Jonathan, wife of the former President.
EFCC had arrested and charged Dudafa, Mr. Amajuoyi Briggs, a lawyer who was the secretary to all the companies, Demola Bolodeoku, a bank official and the companies to court on a 15-count charge.
Some of the witnesses brought to court in the course of trial testified that they knew nothing about the companies but however changed their not guilty and pleaded guilty on behalf of the companies.
Counsel to the four companies Chief Mike Ozekhome SAN had challenged their pleas of guilt at the trial federal high court but the challenge was refused.
Chief Ozekhome in a statement today made the Court of Appeal judgment public adding that it was delivered through zoom.
The senior lawyer said that In a well considered judgment, the Court of Appeal set aside the conviction of Transocean Property & Investment Company Ltd, Seagate Property Development & Investment Ltd, Pluto Property & Investment Company Ltd and Avalon Global Property Development Company Ltd.
The four companies were said to have been convicted by Hon. Justice Babs Kuewumi of the federal high court on the 2nd day of November, 2016.
The convictions of the four companies were held to be a nullity having been done in gross disregard to statutory and constitutional provisions.
At the Federal High Court, Chief Mike Ozekhome SAN led a team of lawyers to challenge the convictions of the companies and sought that the convictions be set aside.
The trial court Judge, Babs Kuewumi however refused to set aside the conviction.
In the four briefs of appeal settled by Ige Asemudara, the appellants in the different but related appeals contended that the circumstances of the conviction of the companies being a nullity, is one in which the court could set aside its own decision.
He urged the Court of Appeal to allow the appeal and set aside the conviction.
The Court of Appeal in its judgment was said to have agreed with the appellants and set aside the conviction of the four companies especially in view of the fact that the validity of the plea of guilt which was challenged by the appellants was still yet to be determined before the convictions were made.
The appellate court held that the convictions of the four companies breached the fair hearing provisions of the constitution.
The lead judgment was read by Hon. Justice C. N. Uwa while Justices Tunde Awotoye and Abundaga agreed with the lead judgment.
The counsel present at the Zoom meeting were Ige Asemudara for the appellants (all the companies) with him were Ejieke Onuoha and Azubuike Solomon Akpe while Rotimi Oyedepo with A. O. Mohammed appeared for the respondents.