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Patience Jonathan’s $15m: Ozekhome challenges companies’ conviction

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Mike Ozekhome, has approached the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal seeking to set aside the guilty plea entered by four companies which were accused of laundering a sum of $15.591m being claimed by the wife of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience.

The convicted four companies are Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited; Seagate Property Development & Investment Co. Limited; Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Limited and Avalon Global Property Development Company Limited.

They were last year charged with money laundering before the Federal High Court in Lagos and had on September 15, 2016 pleaded guilty to laundering the money.

The trial judge, Justice Babs Kuewumi, had subsequently convicted them as charged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission but reserved their sentencing till a later date.

The judge had reserved the sentencing because the three persons charged with the company pleaded not guilty and elected to go through trial.

The three persons are a former Special Adviser on Domestic Affairs to ex-President Jonathan, Waripamo-Owei Dudafa; a lawyer, Amajuoyi Briggs; and a banker, Adedamola Bolodeoku.

At the April 3, 2017 proceedings in the case, Ozekhome had appeared before the judge saying he had been hired by the convicted companies to represent them and, therefore, urged Justice Kuewumi to allow him enter appearance for them.

Though the EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, opposed the prayer insisting that the companies had already been convicted, the judge, however, granted Ozekhome’s prayer to represent the convicted companies.

The SAN subsequently went before the Court of Appeal, seeking leave to challenge the conviction of the companies before the lower court.

In a supporting affidavit to a motion filed at the appellate court, a lawyer in Ozekhome’s chambers, Chimaobi Onuigbo, said the companies were not represented by any lawyer when they pleaded guilty.

Ozekhome contended that Friday Davies, Agbo Baro, Bioghowri Frederick and Taiwo Ebenezer, who pleaded guilty on behalf of the four companies were not authorised to do so, despite the fact that the EFCC said the four persons were listed as directors in the companies at the Corporate Affairs Commission.

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