A/ Court sets aside conviction of firms linked to Patience Jonathan

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The Court of Appeal in Lagos has set aside the conviction of four companies linked by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) with Dr Waripamo Owei Dudafa, an aide to former president Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, and Dame Patience Jonathan, wife of the former President.

According to a statement by the companies’ lawyer, Mike Ozekhome SAN, the judgment was delivered during a virtual court session via Zoom with attendance restricted to only parties and their counsel.

The firms are: Transocean Property & Investment Company Ltd, Seagate Property Development & Investment Ltd, Pluto Property & Investment Company Ltd and Avalon Global Property Development Company Ltd.

The EFCC had allegedk the companies were holding funds allegedly belonging to Dame Patience Jonathan, wife of the former President Goodluck Jonathan.

It arraigned before the Federal High Court in Lagos, Dudafa; Amajuoyi Briggs, a lawyer who was the secretary to all the companies; Demola Bolodeoku, a bank official and the companies on a 15-count charge.

Following the trial, Justice Babs Kuewumi convicted the firms on November 2, 2016.

But, dissatisfied, they challenged the decision through their lawyers, led by Ozekhome and Ige Asemudara.

Delivering judgment on Friday, the appellate court overturned the lower court’s decision.

According to the statement, It held that the convictions of the four companies were a nullity having being done in gross disregard of statutory and constitutional provisions.

It noted that the validity of the companies’ plea of guilt which was challenged by the Appellant was still yet to be determined before the convictions were made.

The court held that the firms’ convictions breached the fair hearing provisions of the constitution.

The lead judgement was read by Hon. Justice C. N. Uwa, while Justices Tunde Awotoye and Abundaga agreed with the lead judgment.

The counsel present at the Zoom meeting were Asemudara for the Appellant (all the companies) with him were Ejieke Onuoha and Azubuike Solomon Akpe, while Rotimi Oyedepo with A. O. Mohammed appeared for the EFCC.

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