A conflict over legal representation of prosecuting counsel on Wednesday stalled the scheduled re-arraignment of the former Managing Director of the defunct Gulf Bank Plc, Prince Johnson Adekunle Adeyeba, and others over an alleged N15, 761,176.24 billion fraud.
A foremost prosecutor with the Economic & Financial Crimea Commission (EFCC) Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Rotimi Jacobs announced his appearance for the prosecution before Justice Daniel Osiagor of the Federal High Court, Lagos said it has been stalled owing to conflicts over legal representation of the prosecuting counsel.
After he took his seat, another lawyer, Vivian Aibagbon, a Principal State Counsel, from the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), also announced her appearance as prosecutor for the same case.
This caused some kind of confusion. But Mr Jacobs told the court that he was in his office a few days ago, when he received the ‘fiat’ issued from the AGF’s office to prosecute the matter.
The state counsel also told the court that she was sent from the AGF’s office to request for a two weeks adjournment, to enable the office review the charge against the defendants and to determine the next step to take.
Following the development, the senior advocate asked the court for an adjournment to enable the prosecution put it’s house in order.
By the agreement of all parties, Justice Osiagor adjourned till February 2, for the arraignment of all the defendants in the charge.
The defendants, Prince Adeyeba, a Briton, Gareth Marvyn Wilcox, the Managing Director of Ibom Power Company; and a lawyer, Mr. Uche Uwechia, who was the former Legal Advisor to the defunct Gulf Bank Plc, and others were brought before the court on the alleged N15bn fraud.
The others are: Babajide Rogers; Ignatius Ukpaka; John Ezugwu and three Limited liability companies: Ibom Power Company; Lyk Engineering Company and Taurus Shelters Limited.
They were alleged to have between April 1, 2001; December 24, 2002; August 8, 2003 and some other dates, fraudulently used their various positions to convert the sum of N15, 761,176.24 to fund their private businesses.
The defendants were alleged to have also used their positions to defraud the defunct bank of the said amount to fund the Briton’s companies, while the two of them were also alleged to have used the money to purchase a vessel and finance a none existing refinery.
Prince Adeyeba was specifically alleged to have also fraudulently converted to his personal property, two lands at Plot 22 and 23 Zone K, Federal Government Layout, Banana Island, Lagos, with Certificate of Occupancy numbers: 27/27/96 and 7/7/96 dated 20 June, 2003, belonging to the defunct bank.
The lawyer, Mr. Uche Uwechia, was alleged to have aided the former bank manager to convert the said lands to his personal properties. The value of the land is estimated to be N600 million.
The offences according to the AGF are contrary to section 15(1)(c) (2) and (3) of the failed banks (recovery of debt) and financial malpractices in banks act Cap F2,2010 and punishable under section 16(1), (2),18(1)(2) and 19(4)of the failed banks (recovery of debt and Financial Malpractices.
The defendants were first arraigned before Justice Ibrahim Yunusa, sometimes in 2020, on a 21-count charge of Conspiracy, fraud and illegal conversion of fund of the sum of N15, 761, 176. 24 billion.
Following the compulsory retirement of Justice Yunusa from the Bench, the defendants’ charge was transferred to Justice Rilwan Aikawa.
When Justice Aikawa was transferred to another division of the court, Justice Osiagor inherited the case file.