Counsel to four companies which pleaded guilty to laundering $15.5 million yesterday, Chief Ozekhome has prayed a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos to reverse their guilty plea and order a new trial.
The companies allegedly [covertly] belong to former First Lady, Mrs Patience Jonathan.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, arraigned the companies, alongside a former Special Adviser on Domestic Affairs to President Jonathan, Dr Waripamo Dudafa, a lawyer, Amajuoyi Briggs, who is the companies’ secretary and a banker, Adedamola Bolodeoku.
Dudafa, Briggs and Bolodeoku had pleaded not guilty to the 17-count charge.
Ozekhome, SAN, told trial judge, Justice Babs Kuewumi, that the companies were not given a fair trial before their conviction because they had no legal representation of their choice.
“Throughout the trial, they did not have any counsel or counsel of their choice,” he argued, adding that had the judge’s attention been drawn to it, he would have ordered the prosecution to provide a counsel for the defendants.
He said he was briefed to represent the companies after its directors pleaded guilty despite not being authorised by the board to do so.
He argued that the trial be done de novo—a fresh start—and the previous proceedings declared null, void and unsustainable in law.
The application, he said, was on the ground that the court failed to pass a sentence on the convicted companies, as the judge reserved sentence till end of the trial of the other defendants.
Ozekhome said the directors who pleaded guilty were not authorised by the board to defend the companies, which he said were denied the right to cross-examine the purported directors in a proper trial.