N18.7m Fraud: Absence of Defence Counsel Stalls Trial Of Alleged Fraudster In Lagos
The trial of Nasiru Sanni, a suspected fraudster who is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for an alleged N18.7 million fraud, before Justice Sherifat Solebo of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, could not continue today, October 5, 2020, due to the absence of the defence counsel.
Sanni is standing trial on a one-count charge, which reads: “That you, Alhaji Nasiru Sanni, on or about the 15th day of March, 2017 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with a dishonest intent, converted to your own use the sum of N18,700,000 (Eighteen Million Seven Hundred Thousand Naira), property of Oluwatosin Emmanuel Sawyer, thereby committed an offence of stealing contrary to and punishable under Section 287 of Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.”
He was first arraigned on June 17, 2019 and pleaded “not guilty”, prompting the commencement of his trial.
In the course of the trial, counsel for the EFCC, Abbas Muhammed, presented four witnesses, including, Odili Theodora, a staff of Zenith Bank; James Atum, a staff of UBA Plc; Oluwatosin Sawyer, the victim, and Zayannu Haliru, an operative of the EFCC.
Haliru, who testified as the fourth witness, had, on January 20, 2020, narrated how the fraud was investigated, following a petition received by the EFCC, and how the Commission wrote to the banks, as part of the investigations.
Following his testimony, the prosecution closed its case, as Justice Solebo adjourned for the defence to open its case.
However, at the resumed hearing on October 5, 2020, the defence counsel, Ibukun Lala, was absent in court.
Muhammed prayed the court to stand down the case, informing the Court that he got in touch with the defence counsel, who informed him of being held up in traffic.
Consequently, Justice Solebo granted the request for a stand down.
However, when the case was later called up, Muhammed informed the Court that he got a text message from the defence counsel, who claimed to be in the custody of officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, after inadvertently being involved in an accident on the way to the court.
The case was adjourned till October 19, 2020 for continuation of trial.