The proposed arraignment of President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Paul Usoro (SAN) over an alleged N1.4 billion fraud has failed owing to the failure to serve him with court charge sheet.
Usoro was slated to be arraigned before Justice Muslim Hassan of the Federal High Court in Lagos this Monday, but the court shifted his arraignment till December 18, 2018, after the defence team told the court, that the charge sheet had not been served on the accused.
Former NBA President, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), had led 12 other Senior Advocates of Nigeria to represent Usoro at the court on Monday.
Olanipekun, who told the court that his client came to court on his own despite not being served with the charge sheet, said he was ready to accept the service of the charge sheet in the courtroom.
But counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, said he was not in a position to serve the charge sheet on Usoro.
He said the charge sheet was with the EFCC investigative office.
The trial judge therefore fixed the arraignment for December 18, and directed the EFCC to ensure the service of the charge sheet on Usoro.
EFCC had dragged the NBA president to court on a claimed that he converted and laundered N1.4 billion in connivance with the governor of his state, Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State.
But the governor, according to EFCC was not listed as a defendant in the charge because he is “currently constitutionally immune against criminal prosecution”.
Also mentioned in the body of the charges were one Nsikan Nkan, described as Commissioner for Finance, Akwa Ibom State; one Mfon Udomah, described as the Accountant General of Akwa Ibom State ; one Uwemedimo Nwoko, described as the Akwa Ibom State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice; and Margaret Ukpe, all of whom were said to be at large.
According to the counsel to the EFCC, who signed the charge sheet, the offence allegedly committed was contrary to Section 18 ( a) of the Money Laundering ( Prohibition) Act, 2011 and if found guilty, Usoro is liable to be punished under Section 15 ( 3 ) of the same Act.
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