The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday re-arraigned Senate President Bukola Saraki’s Deputy Chief of Staff Gbenga Makanjuola and two others before Justice Maureen Onyetenu of the Federal High Court in Lagos.
It accused the defendants of allegedly converting N3.5billion of N19billion London-Paris Club refund to states.
The defendants were accused of conspiring to disguise the unlawful origin of N3.5billion paid into the account of Melrose General Services Limited.
The company, along with its operations manager Obiora Amobi and a cashier in the Senate President’s Office Kolawole Shittu, were re-arraigned on an 11-count charge of money laundering.
They were first arraigned before Justice Babs Kuewumi, but the judge was transferred to Sokoto Division.
Justice Oyetenu was transferred from Osogbo, Osun State capital, to Lagos to replace him.
While sitting in Osogbo Division, Justice Oyetenu made news when she sentenced a former lecturer at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Prof. Richard Iyiola Akindele, to two years imprisonment for demanding sex to pass one of his students, Monica Osagie.
She jailed the randy lecturer despite his plea bargain with the prosecution, saying it was a warning to lecturers in the habit of molesting female students.
EFCC, which first arraigned Saraki’s aides last October 7, alleged that Melrose General Services and Robert Mbonu, said to be at large, between December 14, 2016 and last January “took control” of the money transferred from the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) account to Melrose’s Access Bank account numbered 0005892453.
The commission said they reasonably ought to have known that the money represented proceeds of their unlawful and fraudulent activity.
Makanjuola was accused of making a cash payment of N50million to Mbonu on December 20, 2016 without going through a financial institution.
The alleged offence is punishable under Section 1 (a) and Section 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering Act 2011 and punishable under Section 15 (3) and 16 (2) (b).
One of the counts reads: “That you, Gbenga Makanjuola, sometime in December 2016 in Nigeria, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, did accept cash payment of the sum of $500, 000 from Kolawole Shittu without going through a financial institution…”
EFCC claimed that Melrose General Services, whose alter ego is Mbonu, was never engaged by the NGF for any consultancy services in relation to the Paris and London Club loan refund.
The commission said the company allegedly recopied and misinterpreted work done by another consortium to the NGF for payment.
EFCC said Melrose was paid N3.5billion by the NGF on December 14, 2016, and that it moved out about N2.2billion of the N3.5billion, the balance of which the commission had prayed the court to order its forfeiture.
The defendants pleaded not guilty.
Justice Onyetenu allowed them to continue on the bail granted them by Justice Kuewumi and adjourned until May 20, 21 and 22 for trial.
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