WorldStage Newsonline– The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Lagos Zonal office, on Thursday arraigned Tuoyo Omatsuli, a former Executive Director on Projects, Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, and one Francis Momoh before Justice Salisu Saidu of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos on a 45-count charge bordering on conspiracy and money laundering to the tune of N3, 645, 000, 000.00.
Omatsuli and Momoh, who were charged alongside their companies, Don Parker Properties Limited and Building Associates Limited respectively, were said to have shown personal interests in the consultancy contract awarded to Starline Consultancy Services Limited by the NDDC, thereby enriching themselves unlawfully.
Investigations revealed that the defendants received monies in tranches from Starline Consultancy Services Limited through their companies and used the funds to purchase properties across the country.
The offence is contrary to Section 15(2) (b) of the Money Laundering Act 2011 as amended by (Act No. 1 of 2012) and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.
One of the counts reads: “That you, Engineer Tuoyo Omatsuli, Don Parker Properties Limited, Francis Momoh and Building Associates Limited, between August 2014 and September, 2015 at Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, conspired to disguise the illegal origin of the total sum of N3, 645, 000, 000.00 (Three Billion, Six Hundred and Forty-Five Million Naira) being proceeds of unlawful activity to wit: corruption and gratification and thereby commited an offence.”
Another count reads: “That you, Engineer Tuoyo Omatsuli, Don Parker Properties Limited and Francis Momoh sometime in March, 2017 at Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, did transfer by selling the interest of Don Parker Properties Limited in the property known as Block 4, Plot B25 Lekki Peninsula residential Scheme 1, Eti-Osa Local Government Area of Lagos State measuring approximately 587.195 square metres to Redline Properties Limited, which property you had acquired from Jide Tinubu with the proceeds of corruption and gratification credited into the Diamond Bank Plc account of Building Associates Limited by Starline Consultancy Limited and thereby commited an offer.”
The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to all the counts when they were read to them.
In view of their pleas, the prosecution counsel, Ekene Iheanacho, asked the court for a trial date and prayed the court to remand the defendants in prison custody to ensure that they attend trial.
However, counsel to the second, third and fourth defendants, Norrison Quarkers, SAN, informed the court that his clients had filed and served bail applications on the prosecution.
Quarker also informed the court that the third defendant, Momoh, was battling with “serious health challenges”, adding that he was initially granted an administrative bail by the EFCC on health grounds.
He, therefore, urged the court to admit the third defendant to bail.
Counsel to the first defendant, Bode Omoboriowo, told the court that his client had yet to file and serve his bail application on the prosecution.
Omoboriowo, therefore, prayed the court for a short time to prepare the bail application.
He also prayed the court to remand the first defendant in the EFCC custody pending when the bail application will be filed and served.
Prosecution counsel, Iheanacho however, did not oppose the prayers of the defence.
He also stated that he was just served with the bail application of the third defendant in court today.
He, therefore, asked the court for time to respond to the applications.
Iheanacho further urged the court to remand the defendants in prison custody, adding that the EFCC detention facilitiy was already congested.
After listening to both parties, Justice Saidu remanded the defendants in the EFCC custody and adjourned the matter to November 16, 2018 for hearing of the bail application.