ABUJA (Sundiata Post) – The Federal Government through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has pressed fresh charges against former Head of Service of the Federation (HOS), Mr. Steve Oronsaye and five others before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.
The new charges are in addition to the 24-count charge earlier preffered against the Oronsaye and two other defendants over alleged fraud and money laundering offences involving N1.2bn.
The prosecution counsel, Adebisi Adeniyi, at the resumed trial on Tuesday, informed the presiding Judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole that he had filed amended charges.
He also sought for an adjournment to serve the charge on three new co-defendants who have been included in the fresh charges, and with the filing of the amended charge, the initial 24-counts charge has jumped to 35-count while the number of defendants increased from three to six.
Adeniyi read the amended charge dated November 2, 2015, which now has the following defendants: Stephen Oronsaye (1st), Osarenkhoe Afe (2nd), Global Services Limited (3rd), Cluster Logistics Limited (4th), Kangolo Dynamic Cleaning Limited (5th) and Drew Investment and Construction Company Limited.
But opposing the process of filing the amended charge, Oronsaye’s lawyer, Mr. Kola Okeaya-Inneh (SAN) was of the view that the prosecution “cannot file an amended charge without a prior formal application to so.
Ruling on the application, Justice Kolawole said the prosecution could bring an amended charge at the stage of the proceedings without the need to file any formal application for leave of court to do so.
He, however, criticised the prosecution’s sudden realisation that it needed to file an amended charge when it was less than 24 hours to the date that had been fixed for the commencement of trial.
As a result, Justice Kolawole adjourned the matter till November 25, to enable the prosecution to serve the fresh charges on the new co-defendants for them to take their pleas.[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”70560”]
Oronsaye and the initial two accused persons all pleaded not guilty to the 24 counts preferred against them when they appeared before Justice Kolawole in July, 2015.
Shortly after their arraignment, Justice Kolawole released them to go home, pending the hearing of their bail application scheduled for July 21.
But the judge ordered that their release would be effective upon filing of a written undertaking by the defence counsel within 48 hours and an assurance to produce the accused persons in court at the next hearing date.
On the count charges preferred against the accused persons, they were said to have allegedly collaborated in defrauding the Federal Government to the tune of N118,992,201.6 under the guise of paying the money in tranches for the contract of biometric data capture project between March 2010 and December 2011.
The fraud was allegedly perpetrated through the award and payment for fake contracts to nine companies including, Innovative Solutions, Fredrick Hamilton Global Services, Xangee Technologies Limited, Fatideck Ventures, Obalando Nigeria Enterprises, Moshfad Enterprises and Fesbee Global Resources Limited.
Other companies through which the accused persons allegedly siphoned the money from the Federal Government included Jolance Integrated Concept Limited and M.OF Investment Limited.
Meanwhile, one other person, who was alleged to have been involved in the fraud, Abdulrasheed Maina, said to be on the run, was on Monday declared wanted by the EFCC.
The accused persons were further charged under section 14 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004 and section 1(1) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006.
The fraud offences were said to be punishable under 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006.
Part of the charge read: “That you Stephen Oronsaye, Abdulrasheed Abdullahi Maina (now at large), Osarenkhoe Afe and Fedrick Hamilton Global Services Limited on about July 2, 2010 in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court collaborated in disguising genuine nature of the sum of N161,472,000 derived from an illegal act to wit: conducting procurement fraud by means of fraudulent and corrupt action the contract extension of biometric enrolment purportedly awarded to Innovative Solutions Limited by Office of the Head of Service of the Federation without due process and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 14(1)(b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004.
“That you, Stephen Oronsaye and Abdulrasheed Abdullahi Maina (now at large) on or about July 7, 2010 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, by false pretences and with intent to defraud, induced the delivery of the sum of N119,398,500 from the Federal Government of Nigeria to one Frederick Hamilton Global Services Ltd, purporting same to be contract sums for biometric data capture project which you know to be illegal and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 1(1) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006.”