16 January 2013

Nigeria: Slyva Asks Court to Quash Fraud Charges

Former Bayelsa State Governor Timipre Sylva, who is standing trial over money laundering charges filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has asked the court to quash the charges.

Sylva, who was arraigned last year before Justice Adamu Bello of an Abuja Federal High Court, is alleged to have defrauded his state of N4.5 billion.

His counsel, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), yesterday told the court that the proof of evidence attached to the charge sheet does not in any way show a link between his client and the alleged offenses.

He asked the court to dismiss the case against Sylva for lacking in merit and for being an abuse of court process.

Opposing the application, Prosecuting Counsel, Festus Keyamo, argued that Section 33 of the Federal High Court Act allows for further evidence to be brought before the court.

More so, he said the same section allows for summary jurisdiction, thus it cannot support the position that a charge can be struck out for the sake of proof of evidence.

He said if the court rules against prosecution at this point, it will mean that it has come to a conclusion that the proof of evidence already has everything intended to be brought before it.

He urged the court to refuse Sylva's application seeking to quash the charges and to hear the prosecution's case.

Sylva is alleged to have conspired with others who are now at large, to convert resources and properties belonging to Bayelsa State worth N2 billion between 2009 and 2010.

The former governor is also alleged to have conspired with others who are now at large to obtain a N2 billion loan from Union Bank for Bayelsa State government, under the pretence of using the money to augment salaries between 2009 and 2010.

He is equally alleged to have conspired with others who are now at large, to convert the sums of N380 million, N50 million and N20 million belonging to Bayelsa State government, through the FinBank account of one Habibu Sani Maigida, a Bureau De Change operator, a First Bank account of Enson Benmer Limited and a UBA account belonging to one John Daukoru.

The case has been adjourned till February 20 for ruling.

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