(UPDATED) N1.4bn fraud: Court shifts NBA President, Paul Usoro’s arraignment

The Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday shifted till December 18, 2018, the arraignment of the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr Paul Usoro (SAN), who was charged with an alleged N1.4bn fraud.

The arraignment earlier scheduled for Monday before Justice Muslim Hassan could not hold as the NBA President, through his defencce team, told the court charge sheet had not been served on him.

Usoro was represented in court on Monday by a former NBA President, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), who led 12 other Senior Advocates of Nigeria.

Olanipekun said his client came to court on his own despite not being served with the charge sheet, adding that he was ready to accept the service of the charge sheet in the courtroom.

However, the prosecuting counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, said he was not in a position to serve the charge sheet on Usoro, as the charge sheet was with the EFCC investigative office.

While shifting the arraignment till December 18, Justice Hassan directed the EFCC to ensure the service of the charge sheet on Usoro.

In a copy of charge sheet, sighted last week by our correspondent, the EFCC claimed that Usoro converted and laundered N1.4bn in connivance with the governor of his state, Governor Udom

Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State.

Emmanuel was, however, not listed as a defendant in the charge, as the EFCC indicated that he is “currently constitutionally immune against criminal prosecution”.

Also mentioned in the body of the charges were one Nsikan Nkan, described as Commissioner for Finance, Akwa Ibom State; one Mfon Udomah, described as the Accountant General of Akwa Ibom State; one Uwemedimo Nwoko, described as the Akwa Ibom State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice; and Margaret Ukpe, all of whom were said to be at large.

The EFCC claimed that Usoro in connivance with the others mentioned conspired among themselves to commit the offence sometime in 2015 “within the jurisdiction of this honourable court”.

The anti-graft agency claimed that the N1.4bn allegedly converted and laundered by the defendants belonged to the Akwa Ibom State Government.

Counsel for the EFCC, Oyedepo, who signed the charge sheet said the offence allegedly committed by the NBA President was contrary to Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011.

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