A former Senior Special Assistant to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan on Domestic Affairs, Dr Waripamo-Owei Dudafa has urged the Federal High Court, Lagos, to discharge and acquit him of alleged N1.6 billion fraud brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Dudafa moved his application for no-case submission before Justice Idris, through his lawyer, Gboyega Oyewole (SAN) said EFCC’s case against him was watery.
EFCC arraigned had on June 11, 2013, arraigned Dudafa and Iwejuo Joseph Nna also known as Olugbenga Isaac, before Justice Mohammed Idris led-court on 23-counts of conspiracy to conceal proceeds of crime amounting to over N1.6 billion.
In urging the court to acquit him of the allegations, Dudafa’s lawyer said: “We urge your lordship to hold that no case has been made out against the first defendant to warrant his being asked to enter a defence”.
Oyewole (SAN) said the monies Dudafa was accused of laundering was given to him by his bosses, adding that there was no evidence the funds were stolen.
“The first defendant has stated the source of the money. He was an aide. And there is nothing to show that the money came from a criminal source,” Oyewole said.
Nna’s lawyer Ige Asemudara faulted the prosecution’s claim that the money was allegedly obtained by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) based on an instruction letter National Security Adviser (NSA) Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd).
“Nothing was tendered showing that the money Dasuki requested left the CBN. There must be a debit note to show that the money left. In the absence of that, it cannot be said that there was a crime,” he said.
Besides, he said his client, a bank branch manager in Yenegoa, the Bayelsa State capital, had no link to the companies in whose accounts the money was kept.
“These monies were in the ordinary books of the bank and were not hidden under a pillow. If indeed there was concealment, it must be by the bank and not the branch manager who is an employee. The accounts were accessible so the issue of concealment could not have arisen.
“We urge your Lordship to discharge the second defendant on all the counts,” Asemudara said.
But, prosecuting counsel Nnaemeka Omenwa argued that the prosecution, through its seven witnesses and exhibits tendered, made out a prima facie case against the defendants to require them to enter their defence.
He said there was evidence that Dudafa asked Nna to raise drafts in respect of the monies, adding that Nna who signed on the companies’ accounts.
“The evidence on record shows clearly that the first defendant was appointed by the Federal Government as a the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Domestic/Household and Social Events between 2012 and 2015.
“The evidence on record shows that the in the course of this service, huge sums of money which are not the first defendant’s salary and allowances were traced to the accounts which he procured the second defendant to open, maintain and operate in fictitious names.
“The second defendant, who at the material time was the Branch manager in Yenogoa branch of Heritage Bank, acceded to the request of the first defendant and agreed with him to conceal these funds in the accounts opened in the name of Seagate Property Development and Investment Ltd, Avalon Global Property Development Company Ltd, Ebiwise Resources, Pluto Property and Investment Company Ltd, Rotato Interlink Services Ltd and De Jakes Fast Food and Restaurant Nigeria Ltd.”
EFCC said the evidence on record established a prima facie case that the funds were received in foreign currencies from Dudafa by Murtala Bashir Abubakar through the state house staff.
It said Abubakar thereafter converted the currencies to naira and credited the accounts nominated by Dudafa “in grand conspiracy with the second defendant.”
“It is our humble submission that the defendants’ agreement or the meeting of the minds of the defendants to conceal the funds in the accounts where the second defendant must of necessity assume the identity of other persons is a clear manifestation of the defendants’ conspiracy to carry out an unlawful act to wit: concealing proceeds of unlawful act.
“We, therefore, urge my lord to hold that the prosecution has made out a case of conspiracy against the defendants as alleged in counts 1,” EFCC said.
EFCC said Dudafa allegedly used his position or office as the SSA to the former president to confer unfair advantage on himself “by enriching himself with huge sums of money which are warehoused and fraudulently concealed in the various accounts managed by the second defendant on behalf of the applicant.”
Justice Idris has however adjourned till July 6 for ruling on the no-case submission.