A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria on Monday adjourned till 14 January, 2019, for the arraignment of former Managing Director of Fidelity Bank PLC. Nnamdi Okonkwo for allegedly laundering the sum $153,310,000 while the former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Allison-Madueke and one Ben Otti that supposed be arraigned with him were alleged to be at large.
Others to be arraigned alongside the former bank boss are Dauda Lawal, Lanre Adesanya and Stanley Lawson.
However, when the matter was mentioned on Mondy, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC, Prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo told the court that Okonkwo and Lawal were present in court while Adesanya and Lawson were absent; consequently, he urged the court to issue bench warrant against the defendants who were absent to enable the prosecution get them to attend trial.
The counsel, representing the absentee defendants, Ademola Adesina, urged the court not to issue bench warrant because their absence was not deliberate as the two of them were abroad for medical treatment, and that once they were through, they would come to court, and therefore asked for short adjournment date.
The two Senior Advocates, Dr Hassan Liman and Ishaka Dikko appearing for the second defendant, Dauda Lawal told the court that they were worried about the liberty of their client, as there was fear that he might be arrested after leaving the court premises and that they therefore needed the assurance of the prosecution that his right would not be violated.
Other two Senior Advocates, Paul Erokoro and Dr Dapo Olanipekun appearing for Nnamdi Okonkwo also exercised the same fear but in his response Oyedepo urge the defence lawyers to give undertaking that they were going to produce the defendants on the next adjourned date.
The presiding Judge, Muslim Hassan, while adjourning till 14 January, 2019 for the arraignment of the defendants ordered that the right of the defendants should not be tampered with.
In a 14-count charge filed before the court by EFCC prosecutor, Oyedepo, it was alleged that Okonkwo, Lawal, Adesanya, Lawson and (Alison-Madueke and Ben Otti now at large) between 2014 and 2015 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of the court conspired among themselves to conceal in Fidelity Bank PLC the total sum of $153,310,000 which sum they reasonably ought to know formed part of unlawful activity to wit, corruption and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 18(a) 15(2) (a) of the money laundering (prohibition) Ac t2011 as amended and punishable under section 15(3) of the same Act.