Absence of Counsel, Defendant Stalls Arraignment In Alleged N178.8m Fraud In Jos

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 Absence of Counsel, Defendant Stalls Arraignment In Alleged N178.8m Fraud In Jos

 

The arraignment of Okewole Dayo, Bishop Katung Jonas, Dadin Kowa Microfinance Bank and Mamman Irmiya Jatau before Justice Sharon T. Ishaya of the Federal High Court, Jos, Plateau State was stalled on Wednesday, May 22, 2024 due to absence of counsel to the first defendant, Dayo as well as the absence of the fourth defendant, Jatau.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC is prosecuting the quartet on 24-count charges that border on conspiracy, obtaining by false pretence and money laundering to the  tune of N178,885,000 (One Hundred and Seventy-eight Million, Eight Hundred and Eighty -five Thousand Naira).

Count two of the charge reads: “That you, OKEWOLE DAYO (Alias OKEWOLE DAVID DAYO)and BISHOP KATUNG JONAS being Secretary and Chairman of Covenant Fadama Cooperative Society, sometime in 2012, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did knowingly transferred the sum of N50,000,000.00 (Fifty Million Naira only) from Covenant Fadama Cooperative Society Account First Bank Account number 2003050001625 into Dadin Kowa Micro Finance Account; First Bank Account number 2016452671 which sum represent proceeds of unlawful act and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2) (b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011( As Amended by the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2012) and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act”.

Count three reads: “That you DADIN KOWA MICRO FINANCE BANK LTD and MAMMAN IRMIYA JATAU sometime in 2012 in Jos within the Jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, retained the sum of N50, 000,000.00 (Fifty Million Naira only) in your First Bank plc account number 2016452671 owned and operated by you which sum you reasonably ought to have know represents proceeds of unlawful act and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 15(2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011( As Amended by the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2012) and punishable under section 15(3) of the same Act”.

Having noticed the absence of the first defendant’s counsel and the absence of the fourth defendant during the day’s proceeding, prosecution counsel, Ibrahim Buba informed the court that all the defendants were aware of the sitting, having been duly served hearing notices through their respective counsels. He therefore prayed for a bench warrant to be issued against the fourth defendant and a clarification from the first defendant as to who would represent him.

“My Lord, the defendants have been served hearing notice through their counsels, however, the fourth defendant is not in court today. In view of the absence of any formal communication to the court, explaining the absence of the fourth defendant,  we shall be humbly applying for the issuance of bench warrant against the fourth defendant, and also his sureties to be summoned to show cause why they should not forfeit their respective bonds that is before the court,” he said.   He asked for a fresh arraignment date in addition.

In respect of the first defendant whose counsel was not in court, Buba prayed the court to find out from him if he intended to represent himself or needed to get another representation to avoid continued delay of the arraignment and subsequent trial.

Responding, G.G Aji, counsel to Jonas, the second defendant informed the court that the fourth defendant was absent in court having passed on. “On the absence of the fourth defendant, my lord, I can confirm to you that he is dead, I know him in person,” the counsel said.

After listening to the counsels, Justice Ishaya adjourned the matter till July 1, 2024 for arraignment and ordered the sureties of the fourth defendant to produce him in court  or  show course why they should not forfeit their bonds.

The defendants are before the court following claims of some petitioners alleging that they formed a fraudulent cooperative society with which they fleece unsuspecting members of the public in Plateau State and beyond their resources. They were also alleged to have laundered the proceeds of their crime through investments in properties in Jos.