COURTROOM NEWS 23/01/2024
Alleged N320m Fraud: Court Orders Rep. Mutu to Enter His Defence
A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday, dismissed Rep. Nicolas Mutu (Delta-PDP)’s no-case submission in the alleged N320 million money laundering charge by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Justice Folashade Giwa-Ogunbanjo, in a ruling, directed Mutu and his co-defendants to enter their defence as they have a case to answer in respect of the allegations made against them.
Justice Giwa-Ogunbanjo held that the prosecution had adduced sufficient evidence to establish a prima facie case against the three defendants to warrant their being called upon to enter defence.
The judge adjourned the matter until Feb. 21 and Feb. 22 for the defendants to open their defence.
The EFCC had, in the 13-count amended charge, sued Mutu, who represents Bomadi/Patani Federal Constituency of Delta State, along with Airworld Technologies Ltd and Oyien Homes Ltd.
In the second amended charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/123/2019, dated November 22, 2021 and filed November 23, 2021, the defendants were arraigned on 13 counts but pleaded not guilty to the counts.
Mr Mutu waa alleged to have committed the alleged offences between August 2014 and August 2016 when he served as the Chairman of the House of Representatives’ Committee on the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.
In the charge, he was accused of procuring “Airworld Technologies Ltd to conceal of the sum of N320,159, 689.63 to be paid by Starline Consultancy Services Ltd when you reasonably ought to have known that the said sum of N320, 159, 689.63 formed part of proceeds of corruption, gratification and fraudulent acquisition of property.”
While opposing the no-case submissions, prosecuting lawyer, Ekele Iheanacho, argued that the money paid to the defendants by Starline Consultancy, a contractor to NDDC, amounted to gratification.
Mr Iheanacho added that Mutu used his official position, as the chairman of House Committee on NDDC to accept the various sums of money paid by the NDDC contractor.
The prosecuting lawyer contended that Mutu’s alleged conduct violated both the provision of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences, ICPC, Act and Code of Conduct for public officers, which constitute predicate offences to the money laundering offence for which he was being prosecuted.