Justice Mohammed Idris has promised to inform parties of a date for judgment in the trial of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s aide, Dr Waripamo Owei-Dudafa.
Judgment was initially slated for May 31 but the judge directed prosecuting and defence counsel to file further written addresses on an issue he raised suo moto (on his own).
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) charged Dudafa along with a Heritage Bank worker Joseph Iwejuo on 23 counts of money laundering involving N1.6 billion.
Justice Idris, who was elevated to the Court of Appeal, concluded the case through a fiat.
He said: “I have carried out a page-by-page examination of the entirety of the more than 600 pages of the statement of accounts that had been tendered in evidence in this case, and the judgment has been written.
“Reading through my judgment, I discovered that I might have raised issues of law, which I thought are important. I call the attention of counsel so that I am addressed briefly on it.
“If any court of law raises an issue of law suo motu and goes ahead to make pronouncement without affording counsel the opportunity of addressing it on those issues, the entire judgment could be set aside on appeal.
“This is in line with the requirement of Section 36 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to fair hearing.”
The judge asked counsel to address him on the relationship, if any, between Section 27(3) (c) of the EFCC Establishment Act and sections 7(2), 16 and 17 of same Act, as they relate to the charge.
He urged counsel to file the addresses on June 3, following which a date for judgment would be communicated to parties.
Prosecuting counsel Rotimi Oyedepo and defence counsel Gboyega Oyewole (SAN) and Ige Asemudara agreed to waive their rights to formally adopt the further addresses after filing them.
EFCC accused the defendants of concealing the N1.6 billion through a company, Seagate Property Development and Investment Limited, an offense contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 17(a).
They were also accused of knowingly concealing proceeds of crime through Avalon Global Property Development Company Limited amounting to N399,470,000.00, among others.
EFCC said Dudafa, between June 1 and June 4, 2015, “procured” Iwejuo and Ebiwise Resources to conceal N150 million, being proceeds of crime.
Other companies allegedly used in laundering the money include Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited, Rotato Inter Link Services Limited and De Jakes Fast Food and Restaurant Nigerian Limited.
During the trial, Dudafa claimed that EFCC “tormented” him in detention in a bid to get him to implicate Dr Jonathan.
He said he developed a spinal cord ailment while in custody, adding that he was denied adequate medical treatment and forced to write statements.
The prosecution denied the allegations.
SaharaReporters, New York