Strike stalls judgment in Ogbulafor’s trial

By IAfrica
In Nigeria
Jul 25th, 2014
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Court workers’ strike stalled yesterday the scheduled judgment in the trial former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Vincent Ogbulafor, and another accused person.

Justice Ishaq Bello of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), sitting in Maitama, Abuja, on June 24, scheduled judgment for yesterday after entertaining the final arguments of the parties.

When our correspondent visited the court yesterday, its gate was locked. The security personnel on duty said the court would remain locked until the strike is called off by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN).

Ogbulafor and former Secretary of the National Economic Intelligence Committee, Emeka Ebila, are being tried by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on a 16-count of money laundering and fraud involving about N170 million.

The ICPC arraigned the duo on May 10, 2010, alleging that Ogbulafor, while serving as Minister of State for Special Duties in 2001, conspired with the others to float three fictitious companies with which they perpetrated the fraud.

The accused were alleged to have used Henrichiko Nigeria Limited, DHL Consultants and Chekwas Industries to fraudulently obtain N82.6 million, N11.5 million and N6.2 million in 2001.

Ogbulafor was also accused of using his position as the head of the National Economic Intelligence Committee, set up to verify debts owed local contractors, to okay as genuine, several forged documents.

He was alleged to have relied on the forged documents to certify that the three fake companies successfully executed jobs worth N104 million.

The former PDP chairman was also alleged to have collected N2 million and N28 million kickbacks from Ebilah.

The offences contravene Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act, 2000.

Ogbulafor’s lawyer, John Egwuonwu, while adopting his final written address on June 24, urged the court to discharge and acquit his client on all the counts.

He averred that the prosecution’s case failed to link his client to the crime.

Egwuonwu urged the court to jettison the allegation in Ebila’s “confessional statement” that the sum of N28 million was paid to Ogbulafor with two bank drafts.

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