Alleged $9.6bn P&ID scam: Court adjourns suit against fleeing Briton, coys for judgment

A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday, adjourned two separate money laundering suits filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against British national, James Nolan, bi and two other companies for judgment.

Justice Donatus Okorowo adjourned the suits for judgment after counsel for the EFCC, Bala Sanga, and the defence lawyer, Michael Ajara, adopted their final written addresses and made their submissions in the matters.

In his argument, Ajara prayed the court to dismiss the two suit for lack of jurisdiction. insisted that the court lacked jurisdiction because the charges were defective.

Besides, he said all the evidence brought forward by the anti-graft agency, through its witnesses, were hearsay.

But Sanga disagreed with Ajara

The EFCC lawyer argued that under Section 220 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015, the irregularity of a charge does not affect the jurisdiction of the court and neither does it affect the validity of the charge.

He added that Ajara’s objection was belated as this should have been raised during arraignment.

Sanga equally argued that the matter cannot be caught up by hearsay rules because documents obtained by the prosecution’s investigating officers were visible in evidence.

He submitted that knowledge derived from day-to-day work are not hearsay.

The lawyer prayed the court to convict the defendants and order the forfeiture of the companies’ assets to the Federal Government.

After proceedings that lasted till Monday evening, Justice Okorowo adjourned the matters for judgment

The judge said that the judgment date would be communicated to parties in the suits.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the court had, on April 14, fixed today for adoption of the final addresses after Nolan, who jumped bail and fled Nigeria in the alleged 9.6 billion dollars Process and Industrial Development (P&ID) Ltd scandal, opened his defence in absentia without calling any witness.

Ajara had told the judge that he did not intend to call any witness upon resumed hearing.

He said after his evaluation of the EFCC’s evidence, he would rely on the case of the prosecution and Sanga did not object, upon which the matter was fixed for adoption of written addresses.

NAN reports that the EFCC is prosecuting Trinity Biotech Nigeria Limited and Nolan in the charged marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/272/2022 as 1st and 2nd defendants in the case.

Also, the commission is also prosecuting the sister case marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/273/2022 filed against Resorts Express Concept Nigeria Ltd, another company, and Corrado Fantoli as 1st and 2nd defendants respectively before Okorowo.

Fantoli, also a foreigner and an associate of Nolan, was one of the suspects behind the alleged $9.6 billion P&ID fraud.

The suspect, said to be at large, alongside the company, was arraigned in absentia on Nov. 25, 2022, on eight-count money laundering charge.

He was not present in court or represented by a lawyer when they were arraigned.

The court also declared him wanted and ordered for his arrest anywhere he is sighted after Sanga made application to the effect.

Fantoli and Giovanna Beccarelli, who had also been declared wanted and an arrest warrant issued against her, were said to be directors and signatories to the company’s Guaranty Trust Bank account number: 0123849451.

Resorts Express Concept Nigeria Ltd and Trinity Biotech Nigeria Limited are two of the over 30 companies associated with the $9.6 billion scam.

NAN reports that other cases linked to the scandal are currently before Justice Obiora Egwuatu, Justice Zainab Abubakar of FHC, Abuja, besides other charges at FCT High Courts.

In addition the anti-graft agency was also prosecuting some of the companies and Nolan before Justice Ahmed Mohammed before he was elevated to the Appeal Court.

A Business and Property Court in London presided over by Justice Robin Knowles of the Commercial Courts of England and Wales had, in October, quashed the 11 billion dollars awarded against Nigeria in a case filed by the P&ID.

Judge Knowles held that the award was obtained by fraud and that what had happened in the case was contrary to public policy

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