The attempt by Imaobong Akon Esu-Nte, an accountant with the Nigeria Prisons Service to frustrate a case of conspiracy, forgery, abuse of office and money laundering brought against her and two others by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, today failed as Justice E.S Chukwu of the Federal High Court, Maitama, Abuja frowned at a motion by the defendant challenging the competence of the court to hear the matter. The trial judge warned against any attempt to frustrate the speedy determination of the case and adjourned to Monday, May 25, 2015 for hearing on the motion.
Etsu-Nte is being prosecuted on an 11-count alongside one Olukolade Olabamiji, a businessman and Mohammed Abdulkadir, a banker for allegedly laundering funds from the Nigeria Prisons Service into the accounts of companies where she has interests.
The trial which began on March 16, 2015 started with the first prosecution witness, Sini Omar, telling the court how the Abuja socialite, Esu-Nte used her position as Prison Accountant, and in connivance with other accused persons to launder money from the accounts of the Nigeria Prisons Service to their companies: Royal Mall Nigeria Limited, Transferase Ventures and I.D Integrated Petroleum on the guise of executing non existent contracts
The prosecution in a bid to prove its case tendered documents in support of its claims. But, the admissibility of the documents was strongly objected by Ashaolu, SAN who claimed that the documents were not voluntarily rendered to the prosecution. He asked the court for a trial-within-trial to determine their voluntariness.
Justice Chukwu, in granting the defence prayer, adjourned the case to May 20, 2015 for the trial-within-trial to commence.
At the resumed hearing of the case today, after counsel to both parties have announced their appearances to set the stage for the business of the day, Etsu-Nte’s counsel, Ashaolu, SAN, told the court that, he had a pending motion challenging the competence of the court to adjudicate on the matter. He urged the court to quash the charge against the accused as it lacked jurisdiction.
Responding, counsel to EFCC, L. P Aso told the court that, the matter had already gone into trial, that “the defence action is a calculated attempt to drag this matter”.
Justice Chukwu has adjourned the case to May 25, 2015 for hearing of the motion on the court’s jurisdiction.
He warned that his court would not tolerate any attempt by any counsel to frustrate the quick dispensation of justice.
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