The money laundering trial of Waripamowei Emmanuel Dudafa, Amajoye Azubuike Briggs and Adedamola Boladokun continued on Wednesday before Justice Babs Kuewumi of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi Lagos.
The three are the first, second and third defendants in the case prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC].
The trial is consequent upon the conviction of four companies used by a former special adviser on domestic affairs to ex-President Jonathan to conceal and retain proceeds of crime.
The convicted companies which were used by Dudafa to conceal and retain proceeds of crime are Pluto Property and
Investment Company Limited, Seagate Property Development and Investment Company Limited, Transocean Property and Investment Company Limited and Avalon Global Property Development Company.
Counsel to the second defendant, Tochukwu Onyike informed his Lordship of his decision to withdraw from representing the second defendant in the matter.
He stated that his learned friend, Ige Asemudiara will further put up representation for the second defendant.
However, Ige Asemudiara sought protection from Section 36 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution that gives counsels ample time to prepare for a case as he stated that he had just been handed the case file.
He further sought for a short adjournment to enable him make adequate preparation for the trial.
Counsel to the Prosecution, Rotimi Oyedepo objected to the application for adjournment saying it is extremely “unmeritorious”.
He referred to his Lordship’s records noting that Mr. Ige Asemudiara has never been a stranger to the proceedings.
A withdrawal of a single person from the team of lawyers representing the second defendant cannot be a ground for adjournment, he said. `
He further added the application for adjournment from the defence counsel was a ploy to frustrate the day’s proceedings.
He remarked, “My Lord, the change of counsel cannot be made orally on the day that the matter is set to take place.
Even in civil proceedings, the formal application must be served on parties prior to the commencement of the case”.
Mr Oyedepo urged his Lordship to refuse the application for withdrawal which was made orally.
Mr Asemudiara argued that he has not had time to go through the additional proof of evidence served by the prosecution.
This is because it was only just handed to him by Mr. Onyike who previously withdrew from the case and that a possible refusal of adjournment could amount to a breach of counsel’s right against “forced labour”.
Counsels to the first and third defendants, Gbenga Oyewole and Joseph Okodieme also aligned themselves with the submission of Mr Asemudiara stating that they had been served additional proof of evidence late
Justice Kuewumi however ruled that the application for adjournment is refused and asked for trial to proceed.
He also asked that the prosecuting counsel present a witness whose proof of evidence had been served on counsels earlier.
Prosecuting counsel Oyedepo proceeded to call on Uche Obiakor, a deputy manager at Skye Bank Plc.
She described her activities in the bank as growing existing relationships and looking for customers that need facilities to enable them grow their businesses.
Asked if she knows the 3rd defendant in the case to which she answered “Yes. He used to be a colleague of mine in Skye Bank before he moved to Wema Bank.
Asked whether she knows the four convicted companies to which she answered “Yes. They have accounts in Skye Bank, they are customers of Skye Bank”.
She further stated that the types of accounts the companies operated were Corporate accounts and Platinum Card accounts.
Explaining how the accounts were opened, Uche Obiakor stated that the 3rd defendant, Damola Boladokun had come to the bank with a man she presumed was a representative of the 4th to 7th defendants (the four companies).
Dermal took the man to my branch manager Oladipo Oshodi and said he will be the liaison for those accounts, she said.
She stated that the man eventually brought the account opening packages to the account officer Theodora Baerinck, her subordinate who reports to her.
The accounts were open thereafter and domiciled at the Adeola Hopewell branch.
Prosecuting counsel implored the witness to tell the court what transpired between her office, Skye Bank Plc and EFCC, between May and July 2016.