Gbenga Makanjuola, the Deputy Chief of Staff to the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and a limited liability company and two others were today arraigned before a Lagos Federal high court south west Nigeria, over laundering of N3.5 billion Governor’s forum funds.
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), In an eleven count amended charge of money laundering alleged that a limited liability company Melrose General services limited, Gbenga Makanjuola, Obiora Amobi and one Robert Chidozie now at large between te14th day of December 2016 and January 2017 took control of the sum of N3.5billion transferred from the Governor’s forum account into Access bank Plc account number 0005892453 operated by Melrose Services limited.
Following their arraignment, EFCC’s lawyer, Ekene Iheanacho, urged the court to remand the defendants in prison custody and fix a date for their trial.
However Makanjuola’s lawyer, Paul Erokoro (SAN) drew the court’s attention to his client’s bail application pending before the court.
He told the court that the application has been served on the prosecution and sought the court’s permission to move it.
Similar request was also made by Amobi’s lawyer, Omeoga Chukwu.
The duo later got the court’s approval to move the bail applications.
Arguing Makanjuola’s bail application, Erokoro contended that 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”. 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, Eheanacho, urged the court to dismiss the applications saying the defendants constitute a flight risk.
“One of the defendants have already absconded therefore, 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 the two parties in the matter, Presiding Judge, Justice Babs Kiewumi adjourned till 9th October for ruling on the bail applications,and ordered that the defendants be remanded in prison custody.
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”.
That you Obiora Amobi between the 15th December, 2016 and 17th December, 2016 did make cash payment in the sum of N300,000,000 to Robert Chidozie Mbonu now at large without going through financial institution and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 1(a)of the money laundering Act.