FirstNation boss asks court to quash N1. 7bn Skye Bank charges

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  • ·         Bank fails to produce witness, request for time

Managing Director of FirstNation Airways, Mr Kayode Odukoya on Monday asked an Ikeja Special Offences Court to quash the N1. 7 billion theft charges preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) instigated by Skye Bank.

Odukoya made the request in a notice of preliminary objection filed by his counsel, Mr Olawale Akoni (SAN) before the court presided over by Justice Mojisola Dada.

The EFCC is prosecuting Odukoya alongside FirstNation Airways and BellView Airlines on a four- count charge bordering on forgery, use of false document, perjury and stealing.

The defendants had however pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Firstnation and Skye Bank are embroiled in legal battle over claims and counter claims over N3.1b loans the carrier said it had settled.

Odukoya was in court and when the case was called, Mrs Zainab Etuh appearing for EFCC told the court that the EFCC and Skye Bank were unable to proceed with the trial as they had  problems with their witnesses.

 Akoni expressed surprise and told the learned Judge that they had filed notice of Preliminary objections to all the charges on April 30th and sought to move the Application.

The EFCC counsel requested for time to file their response to the application. The matter was then adjourned to May 21st 2018 for hearing of the preliminary objection.

During Monday’s proceedings, Akoni informed the court that the defence had filed a notice of preliminary objection which had been served on the prosecution.

Akoni urged the court to give priority to the determination of the application which is challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the charges against the defendants.

Responding, the EFCC counsel, Etuh, confirmed that the prosecution had been served with the application but was yet to file its reply.

Consequently, the judge adjourned the matter till May 21, 2018 for hearing of the application.

In the application dated April 30,2018 and supported by an 11-paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Kerry Anakwenze,  the defendants are asking for an Order  quashing and/or striking out the Information dated Dec. 11, 2017 , for want of jurisdiction.

The defendants also asked the court for an Order discharging them of the Information filed against them by the EFCC for want of jurisdiction.

The application said: “Take further notice that the grounds upon which this preliminary objection is brought are that: This Honourable Court lacks the jurisdiction and/or competence to entertain the Information/Charge No. ID/239C/2012 as presently constituted.

“The Information/Charge No. ID/239C/2012  contravenes the provisions of Sections 249, 252 and 77 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law No. 10 2011.

“Section 249 of the ACJL stipulates that prosecutorial authority before the High Court of Lagos State shall be exercised only in the name of “The State of Lagos”.

“The Information/Charge No. ID/239C/2012 filed against the Applicants does not comply with Section 249 of the ACJL as stated above.

“This Honourable Court cannot countenance the Information comprised in Information/Charge No. ID/239C/2012, as same is incompetent.”

They added that the charge, as presently filed by the EFCC, was therefore an abuse of court process.

However, in the charge sheet, the EFCC had alleged that Odukoya committed the offences of forgery, use of false document and perjury on March 21, 2013.

The EFCC alleged that the accused forged the Memorandum of Loss of Lagos State Certificate of Occupancy registered as No. 33 at page 33 volume 1011 at the Lagos State Land Registry, Alausa, Lagos, in order that the document be acted upon as genuine.

The anti-graft commission also said that on Oct. 7, 2016, Odukoya stole and dishonestly converted to his own use N1.7 billion belonging to Skye Bank.

The offences violate Sections 85, 86(1) 278(1)(b), 285, 361(1),(a) (b), 363 and 364(1) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011.

Sources said  that there had  been  two  meetings between  Firstnation and Skye Bank aimed at reaching resolution, however both meetings were in conclusive, attributable to  Skye Bank combative posture.

There are two civil action instituted by First Nation and Bellview since April 6th 2017 (denying any indebtedness to Skye Bank and that the Bank is infact indebted to Firstnation to the tune of over N700 Million and one criminal trial that is only just   about to commence.

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