CrimeHeadlines

Absence of Defendant Stalls Trial of Seven for Alleged £1m “Juju” Fraud 

The trial of one Morufu Adewale (aka Gbegulerin Adelana), Omitogun Ajayi, Ajisegiri Abiodun, Abayomi Alaka (aka Dauda Usman Alashe), Taiwo Ahmed, Raufu Raheem, and Sanlabiu Teslim, before Justice R.A. Oshodi of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos for an alleged £1million (One Million British Pounds) was on Monday, February 12, 2024 stalled due to the absence of the fifth defendant, Taiwo Ahmed.

The Lagos Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC had on February 3, 2022 arraigned Morufu, Alaka, Ajayi, and Ajisegiri before Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos with the other defendants listed as being at large. However, the trial could not be concluded before the retirement of the trial judge. This prompted the reassignment of the case file to Justice Oshodi of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos even as the EFCC intensified its efforts to secure the arrest of the other suspected fraudsters.

Subsequently, all the seven defendants were in December 2022, re-arraigned before Justice Oshodi on an amended three-count charge.

Count one reads: “Morufu Yahaya Adewale, Omitogun Ajayi, Ajisegiri Abiodun, Abayomi Kamaldeen Alaka, Taiwo Olamilekan Ahmed, Raufu Wale Raheem and Sanlabiu Owolabi Teslim between May and July 2018 at Lagos within the Ikeja Judicial Division obtained the total sum of £1,000,000.00 ( One Million Pounds Sterling) from Dr. and Dr. (Mrs) Lateef Oladimeji Bello for the purpose of conducting prayers for spiritual cleansing of the family and that the money will be refunded after the prayers within one week, which pretence you knew to be false.”

Count three reads: “Morufu Yahaya Adewale, Omitogun Ajayi, Ajisegiri Abiodun, Abayomi Kamaldeen Alaka, Taiwo Olamilekan Ahmed, Raufu Wale Raheem and Sanlabiu Owolabi Teslim between August and September 2018 at Lagos within the Ikeja Judicial Division obtained the total sum of N175,000,000.00 (One Hundred and Seventy-five Million Naira) only from Dr. and Dr. (Mrs) Lateef Oladimeji Bello for the purpose of conducting spiritual prayers for spiritual cleansing of their son and the family and that the money will be refunded one week after the prayers which pretence you knew to be false.”

They all pleaded “not guilty” to the charges when they were read to them, thus prompting the commencement of their trial.

At Monday’s proceeding, counsel for the EFCC, N.K. Ukoha informed the court that his witness was in court and the prosecution was ready to proceed with the trial.

However, the fifth defendant, Taiwo Ahmed, who was represented in court by his counsel, Babatunde Ojehomon, was absent in court as he was not produced by officers of the Ikoyi Maximum Correctional Centre, Lagos.

Ukoha, had, while addressing the court, raised an alarm that the absence of the fifth defendant was part of a well-orchestrated plan to forestall the trial. “One of the defendants is not in court, and we got intelligence late yesterday, that there is a grand plan to forestall today’s proceedings.

We were just told casually this morning that the defendant is not well,” he said

He further prayed the court for a stand down, so that “the prosecution and one of the court’s registrars could go to the prisons to procure the fifth defendant to come for his trial”.

Counsel to the third and fourth defendants, Olalekan Ojo, SAN, however, in his response, stressed  that he was not and will never be part of any “grand plan” to forestall the trial.

“The proper procedure is to apply to the court, that whoever is supposed to produce the absent defendant, which in this case is the prison official, should be called to explain why the defendant was not produced,” he said.

Counsel to the first defendant, Adebayo Adegbite; counsel to the second defendant, Oluseun Olugbemi-Fatomigbe; Ojemohon; counsel to the sixth defendant, A. Apanisile; and counsel to the seventh defendant, Olalekan Idowu, all aligned themselves with the submission of Ojo.

Thereafter, the trial judge called up one of the prison officials to shed light on the situation. Addressing the court, the official, ASE1 Jonathan Oche, said the defendant was sick. “From the information this morning, we were told that he was sick, and that they want to monitor his health till tomorrow when we will produce him, that there is still a date tomorrow,” he said.

Ojemohon told the court that his client was yet to perfect his bail conditions, and that he was aware of the health condition of his client.

He said: “He complained to me at the last sitting of December 1, 2023 that he was not feeling well, and pleaded with me to do everything I can to expedite the perfection of his bail. Last Thursday, they told me that he fell in the toilet and smashed his head on the bowl of the toilet. “I am not even aware that he will not be brought to court today, I would have demanded that they issue a medical report. So, I am aware that my client is sick and is being observed in the Correctional Services clinic.”

After listening to the submissions of all the parties involved in the case, Justice Oshodi adjourned till the earlier scheduled date of February 13, 2024. “I am satisfied by the reason given and I direct the Maximum Security Custodial Centre to produce the fifth defendant before this court on the earlier scheduled date,” he said.

Advertisements

Follow Lagos Post Online Channel on WhatsApp:

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker