The trial of Gbenga Makanjuola, deputy chief of staff to Senate President Bukola Saraki over a N3.5 billion fraud adjourned till 13 March.
Justice Babs O. Kuewumi of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, gave the new date today, as he also hinted he may not be able to continue the case as he has been transferred to Sokoto.
Makanjuola is being tried along with three others:Kolawole Shittu, cashier to Senate; Robert Chidozie Mbonu, a former Managing Director, Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria, SGBN (at large), Melrose General Services Limited and Obiora Amobi, Operation Manager, Melrose General Services Limited.
They were all arraigned on October 3, 2018 on an amended 11-count charge bordering on alleged conspiracy, accepting cash payment beyond threshold and money laundering to the tune of N3.5billion.
They all pleaded not guilty to the charge.
One of the counts read: “That you, Gbenga Makanjuola, sometime in December 2016 in Nigeria, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, did accept cash payment of the sum of $500, 000. 00 (Five Hundred Thousand Dollars) only from Kolawole Shittu without going through a financial institution and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1(a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 (as amended by Act No. 1 of 2012) and punishable under Section 16 (2) (b) of the same Act.”
At the resumed hearing today, Justice Kuewumi announced that he had been transferred to the Sokoto State Division.
“I have been posted out of Lagos State to Sokoto State.
“I can’t open a matter that will not be concluded.
“So, we have to adjourn the matter”, the Judge had said.
However, in his submission, counsel to the prosecution, Iheanacho, told the court that the matter was adjourned to today for the prosecution to open its case
“My Lord, I am ready to proceed with the trial”, he further stated.
Counsel to the first defendant, K. T. Olawuni, as well as counsel to the third defendant, Omeoga Chukwu, said they were also ready to proceed with the trial.
Also, counsel to the second and fourth defendants, Paul Erokoro, SAN, said he was ready to proceed with the trial.
Erokoro, however, said that the prosecuting counsel had just served him with an additional proof of evidence.
“My Lord, I need time to go through it very well,” he pleaded.
Justice Kuewumi thereafter, adjourned the matter till March 13 for mention.