Saraki’s Aide, Two Others Reminded In Prison

Gbenga Makanjuola, the Deputy Chief of Staff to the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki and two others have been reminded in prison custody by Justice Babs Kuewumi of a Federal High Court in Lagos over allegations of N3.5 billion fraud.

This was sequel to their arraignment by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on an 11-count charge bordering on the alleged offence.

Makanjuola was docked alongside Melrose General Services Limited and Obiorah Amobi.

They, however, pleaded not guilty to the alleged offence.

Following their arraignment, EFCC’s lawyer, E.E. Iheanacho, asked that the defendants be reminded in prison, while he also sought for a trial date.

Responding, Makanjuola’s lawyer, Paul Erokoro (SAN) drew the court’s attention to his client’s bail application. He said the application has been served on the prosecution and sought the court’s permission to move it

A similar request was also made by Amobi’s lawyer, Omeoga Chukwu.

The duo later got the court’s nod to move the bail applications.

Arguing Makanjuola’s bail application, Erokoro said his client was a former member of the House of Representatives and as such, he is prepared to face his trial.

“My client is a full-time staff at the Senate and is not a flight risk. He was a member of the House of Representatives. I urge the court to grant him bail to prepare for his trial,” the silk said.

Amobi’s lawyer, Omeoga Chukwu, also pleaded with the court to admit his client to bail on liberal terms.

However, in his response, EFCC’s lawyer, E.E. Iheanacho, urged the court to dismiss the applications saying the defendants constitute flight risk.

“One of the defendants have absconded. The chances that the other defendants will abscond are now higher with their arraignment. We urge the court to refuse the defence requests,” he said.

After listening to the submissions of parties in the matter, Justice Kuewumi adjourned till October 9 for ruling on the bail applications.

Some of the counts against the defendants read thus: “That you, Robert Chidozie Mbonu (now at large), Melrose General Services Limited, Gbenga Makanjuola and other persons at large sometimes in December 2016 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, conspired amongst yourselves to disguise the unlawful origin of the sum of N3.5 billion paid into the account of Melrose General Services Limited and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as amended by the Act No. 2012)and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.

“That you, Robert Chidozie Mbonu (now at large) and Melrose General Services Limited, between the 14th day of December, 2016 and January, 2017 in Nigeria, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court took control of N3.5 billion transferred from the Nigeria Governors Forum’s Account into Access Bank Plc Account Number, 0005892453 operated by Melrose General Services Limited when you reasonably ought to have known that the said fund represented the proceeds of unlawful activities to wit: conspiracy, stealing and fraud, and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as amended by the Act No. 1, 2012) and punishable under Section 15 (3)of the same Act.”

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