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Alleged $5m Fraud: Court Dismisses Defendant’s Application Challenging Jurisdiction

JURISDICTION OF COURTS IN NIGERIA
Justice Mojisola Dada of the Special Offences sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, on Thursday, June 13, 2024, dismissed the application filed by Capt. Everest Nnaji , a second defendant in a $5m fraud trial, challenging the territorial jurisdiction of the court to hear the case filed against him and one Victor Uadiale.

The defendants are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on an amended five-count charge bordering on conspiracy and obtaining by false pretence to the tune of $5 million.

One of the counts reads: “That you, Victor  Uadiale (aka Victor Emeka/Amaka Emeka), Captain Everest Nnaji and Ismail Lawal (now at large), between 22nd April and 12th day of October 1998, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud, obtained the aggregate sum of $1,292,000.00 (One Million, Two Hundred and Ninety-two Thousand United States Dollar) from  Tawfeeq A. Al-Omar, a Kuwaiti national, by falsely representing to him that the said sum represented payment for Urea Phosphate fertilizer, which you claimed was procured from National Fertilizer Company of Nigeria (NAFCON), Port Harcourt and Bonny Light crude oil, which pretext you knew to be false and committed an offence contrary to  Section 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, No. 13 of 1995 as amended by Act No. 62 of 1999.”

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They pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against them when they were first arraigned on December 14, 2018, and maintained the same plea to the amended charges.

The victim, Tawfeeq A. Al-Omar, a Kuwaiti national, had testified as the first prosecution witness, narrating how he unwittingly fell into the trap of parting with his money.

The prosecution led by Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, had, on September 28, 2022, closed its case after calling six witnesses and tendering several documentary evidence against them.

The defence, however, filed a no-case submission.

Justice Dada had, on March 23, 2023 ,dismissed the no-case submission filed by the defendants as lacking merit and also ordered them to open their defence.

Though the first defendant had begun his testimony denying the charges preferred against him, the application of the second defendant challenging jurisdiction remained pending.

The second defendant had argued that the charge was incompetent and urged the court to strike out his name from the charge sheet.

The prosecution, through its counsel, Bilikisu Buhari, however, prayed the court to order the second defendant to open his defence.

Delivering ruling on Thursday, Justice Dada held that the application was only intended to stall the trial and “it, therefore, fails and is hereby dismissed.”

The case was adjourned till Thursday, October 3, 2024 for continuation of trial.

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