By JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday, fixed October 4 for hearing pending motions filed by parties in criminal charges against Mr Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Rural Electrification Agency (REA), and others.
Justice James Omotosho fixed the date to enable parties exchange their processes and argue their case on all the pending applications on the next adjourned date.
Donnington Nigeria Ltd., on Federal Government’s behalf, had filed four separate charges bordering on breach of Money Laundering Act before the judge.
While Donnington Nigeria Ltd is the complainant, Velocity Logistics & Marine Limited and Ahmad are 1st and 2nd defendants in the charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/175/2023.
The complainant alleged that Ahmad aided Velocity Logistics, a designated non-financial institution, between Jan. 2014 and Jan. 2018 in failing to report in writing to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) any lodgement or outflow transaction from the company’s Zenith Bank account number: 016639377 of the sum above N5 million.
This, it said, as required under Section 10(1)b of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 (as amended) and thereby committed an offence under Section 18(a) of the said Act and punishable under Section 16 (2)(b) of the same Act.
The complainant, while prosecuting the matter, also filed three different charges against three other companies and their directors.
In charge number: FHC/ABJ/CR/183/2023, the complainant preferred 20 counts against Winslow Logistics Ltd and Mr Alkali Habib, a director and shareholder.
In charge number: FHC/ABJ/CR/176/2023, Sahams Crystal Investment Ltd and Abdulmumini Haruna are being sued on 14 counts also bordering on money laundering infractions.
The prosecution also filed 10-count charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/183/2023 against Equip Logistics Services Limited and Edwin Iyk Anyadigibe, its director and a shareholder, for failure to comply with the requirements of submitting to the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, a declaration of the activities of the company contrary to the money laundering act, among others.
When the matter involving Velocity Logistics and Ahmad was called, the prosecution counsel, Reuben Atabo, SAN, informed the court that the case was scheduled for arraignment and hearing of preliminary objection.
Atabo, who observed that the defendant was not in court, told the court that the defendant lawyer served them with their notice of preliminary objection on Friday and that they had to work all through weekend to ensure their response was ready.
The senior lawyer said their response, which was yet to be in the court record, would be filed today.
Justice Omotosho held that even if the defendant was in court, the motion challenging the jurisdiction of the court had to be determined.
Lawyer to the defendants, Abdul Mohammed, SAN, called the court’s attention to media report of the last adjourned date.
Justice Omotosho, who advised lawyers in the matter to be careful of what they relate to public, adjourned the matter until Oct. 4 for hearing of pending applications, including other three sister cases.
Speaking with newsmen shortly after the sitting on the alleged use of media against the defendants, Atabo, who represented the prosecution, said the public had the right to know what transpired in court.
“It is the constitutional rights of the public for them to be aware of what transpired. Court is not a cult where what transpired should be restricted to the courtroom alone.
“But whatever transpired must be properly published to the public. Once that is done, no right of anybody would have been violated. It is part of fair hearing,” he said.
Also speaking on why the defendants were not in court, Victor Opara, SAN, who appeared for Equip Logistics Services Limited and Edwin Iyk Anyadigibe, said every defendant would certainly face his trial any day.