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N19bn Paris Club Scam: Court Adjourns Saraki’s Aide, Makanjuola’s N3.5bn Fraud Trial To March 13

Justice Babs Kuewumi of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi,
Lagos, on Thursday, January 10, 2019, adjourned to March 13, 2019, a
N3.5bn fraud trial involving Gbenga Makanjuola, Deputy Chief of Staff to
the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, and three others.

Makanjuola  alongside Kolawole Shittu, cashier to Senate; Robert
Chidozie Mbonu, a former Managing Director, Societe Generale Bank of
Nigeria, SGBN (at large),  Melrose General Services Limited and Obiora
Amobi, Operation Manager,  Melrose General Services Limited were
arraigned on October 3, 2018 on an amended 11-count charge bordering on
alleged conspiracy, accepting cash payment beyond threshold and money
laundering to the tune of N3.5billion ((Three Billion, Five Hundred
Million Naira) only.
 

One of the counts reads: “That you, Gbenga Makanjuola, sometime in
December 2016 in Nigeria, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable
Court, did accept cash payment of the sum of $500, 000. 00 (Five Hundred
Thousand Dollars) only from   Kolawole Shittu without going through a
financial institution and thereby committed an offence contrary to
Section 1(a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 (as amended
by Act No. 1 of 2012) and punishable under Section 16 (2) (b) of the
same Act.”
 

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against
them. Consequently, the prosecution counsel, Ekene Iheanacho, had asked
for a trial date and also prayed the court to remand the defendants in
prison custody.
 

The prosecution counsel had also urged the court to refuse the bail
applications filed by the defence counsels on behalf of their clients.
Justice Kuewumi had, therefore, adjourned to October 9, 2019 for ruling
on the bail applications.
 

In his ruling, Justice Kuewumi had granted the defendants bail in the
sum of N250m each on October 9, 2018 and adjourned till December 4,
2018 for commencement of trial. At the resumed hearing today, Justice
Kuewumi announced that he had been transferred to the Sokoto State
Division.
 

“I have been posted out of Lagos State to Sokoto State. I can’t open a
matter that will not be concluded. So, we have to adjourn the matter”,
the Judge had said.
 

However, in his submission, counsel to the prosecution, Iheanacho,
told the court that the matter was adjourned to today for the
prosecution to open its case. “My Lord, I am ready to proceed with the
trial”, he further stated. 
 

Counsel to the first defendant, K. T. Olawuni, as well as counsel to
the third defendant, Omeoga Chukwu, said they were also ready to proceed
with the trial. Also, counsel to the second and fourth defendants, Paul
Erokoro, SAN, said he was ready to proceed with the trial.
 

Erokoro, however, said that the prosecuting counsel had just served
him with an additional proof of evidence. “My Lord, I need time to go
through it very well,” he pleaded. Justice Kuewumi thereafter, adjourned
the matter to March 13 for mention.

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