Absence of EFCC lawyer stalls Oyo-Ita ‘N570m fraud’ case


The trial of Winifred Oyo-Ita, former head of service, was stalled on Wednesday owing to the absence of Mohammed Abubakar, counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

On March 23, the EFCC arraigned Oyo-Ita and eight others on 18 counts of money laundering to the tune of N570m.

Those arraigned alongside the former head of service are Frontline Ace Global Services Limited; Asanaya Projects Limited; Garba Umar and his companies; Slopes International Limited; Good deal Investments Limited; Ubong Okon Effiok and his own company; U & U Global Services Limited and Prince Mega Logistics Limited.

The defendants were accused of fraud in relation to duty tour allowances (DTA); estacodes; conference fees fraud and receiving kickbacks on contracts.

The EFCC said investigations revealed that “Oyo-Ita, in her roles in the civil service as director, permanent secretary and head of service, used her companies as well as Effiok’s and Umar’s companies as fronts to receive kickbacks from contractors of various ministries and parastatals where she worked”.

When the case was called on Wednesday, the prosecution counsel was absent.

Paul Erokoro who represented Oyo-Ita said he does not know the reason for the absence of the prosecution counsel. He then asked the court to grant an adjournment.

“Since we do not know why they are not here we ask for a fairly long adjournment to give the prosecution time subject to the court’s convenience. We also ask that they be issued hearing notices,” he said.

Lawyers who represented the other defendants did not oppose the request for adjournment.

Taiwo Taiwo, the judge, in his ruling took judicial notice of the prosecutor’s absence. He also agreed to grant a long adjournment since the matter “is not classified urgent and time bound” and to give the prosecutor time to make himself available.

The judge adjourned the case till July 8 and ordered that hearing notice should be served on the prosecution.

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