EFCC vows to appeal discharge of ex-NDDC boss,  Omatsuli in N3.6bn fraud trial

EFCC vows to appeal discharge of ex-NDDC boss, Omatsuli in N3.6bn fraud trial

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has vowed to appeal the discharge of Tuoyo Omatsuli, a former Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) executive director on projects, in an alleged N3.6 billion fraud trial.

Omatsuli, was discharged on Wednesday, November 11, by Justice Saliu Saidu of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos.

Tuoyo was facing trial alongside Francis Momoh, Don Parker Properties Limited and Building Associates Limited, on an amended 45-count charge bordering on conspiracy and money laundering to the tune of N3.6 billion.

One of the counts read, “That you, Engr Tuoyo Omatsuli, Don Parker Properties Limited, Francis Momoh and Building Associates Limited, between August 2014 and September 2015 at Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, conspired to disguise the illegal origin of N3,645,000,000 (Three Billion Six-Hundred and Forty-Five Million Naira), being proceed of unlawful activity to wit: corruption and gratification; and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18 of the Money Laundering Act 2011 as amended by Act No 1 of 2012 and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.”

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges.

In the course of the trial, the prosecuting counsel, Ekene Iheanacho, called 16 prosecution witnesses, the last being Segun Temitope, a staff of the Special Control Unit against Money Laundering (SCUML), who gave his testimony on July 7, 2020.

However, rather than open their defence, the defendants filed a no-case submission, which was heard on October 12, 2020, while ruling was reserved till November 11, 2020.

In his ruling this Wednesday, the judge discharged the first defendant, Tuoyo, saying, “I have gone through the charge preferred against the defendants as well as the evidence of all the 16 prosecution witnesses and I found no reason for the first defendant to enter the defence.

“Accordingly, the first defendant is hereby discharged.”

The Judge, however, held that the other defendants had a case to answer.

“But the prosecution has made a case against the second defendant, Francis Momoh, which warrants him to enter his defence as well as other defendants.

“Accordingly, I direct the second defendant to enter his defence,” the Judge further held.

The case was adjourned till December 3, 2020.

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