The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Wednesday told the Federal High Court in Lagos that it did not know the whereabouts of the sacked Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ambassador Ayodele Oke, and his wife, Folashade.
The anti-graft agency had last Wednesday charged the Okes before the court in connection with the sums of $43,449,947, £27,800 and N23,218,000 (totalling N13bn) recovered by the EFCC from Flat 7B Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos linked to them.
The EFCC had said that they would be arraigned last Friday but as it failed to produce the defendants in the court, the case was slated for Wednesday (yesterday).
However, on Wednesday, the prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, told Justice C.J. Aneke that the anti-graft agency had still not been able to serve the charge sheet on the Okes.
He said the operatives of the anti-graft agency went to the known address of the defendants but they were nowhere to be found.
“We are having issues with the service of the charge sheet. We have gone to their known addresses but could not find them to be able to serve them with the charges,” Oyedepo told the judge.
He noted that there was a provision in the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, which empowered a judge to make an order compelling the appearance of defendant.
But Justice Aneke said he could not make any such order because the case was not yet properly filed before him.
“I’ve not seen your file. It’s when I see the file that I can determine the urgency of any application. I can’t exercise my discretion without seeing the efforts you have made on paper,” the judge said.
He asked the prosecutor to come back in 24 hours with the relevant application that might make him make an order compelling the appearance of the Okes.
There had been online reports suggesting that the ex-NIA DG and his wife have left the country.
More than a year after a probe panel headed by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo submitted its report indicting the Okes and the sacked Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, of fraud, they were not charged to court until last week.
In the charge sheet marked FHC/L/499/19, the EFCC alleged that the Okes “indirectly concealed the sum of $43,449, 947, property of the Federal Government of Nigeria in Flat 7B, No. 16, Osborne Road, Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos, which sum you reasonably ought to have known formed parts of proceeds of an unlawful act, to wit: criminal breach of trust.”
The Okes were alleged to have committed the crime on April 12, 2017, contrary to Section 15(2)(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Amendment Act 2012.
In the second count, they were alleged to have between August 27, 2015 and September 2015 “indirectly used $1,658,000,” belonging to the Federal Government, contrary to the law.
In the third and fourth counts, the defendants were alleged to “directly retained the sum of $160,777,136.85,” belong to the Federal Government.
By Oladimeji Ramon, Punch