Alleged Fraud: EFCC counsel absence stalls Oyo-Ita’s Trial

The absence of  Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) lawyer, Mohammed Abubakar, Wednesday stalled the trial of the Winifred Oyo-Ita at the federal high court in Abuja.

Oyo-Ita, the immediate past Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, and eight others were on March 23, charged with 18-counts of money laundering to the tune of N570 million.

Those arraigned alongside the former HOS were Frontline Ace Global Services Limited; Asanaya Projects Limited; Garba Umar and his companies: Slopes International Limited; Good Deal Investments Limited; Ubong Okon Effiok and his own company, U & U Global Services Limited and Prince Mega Logistics Limited.

They were accused of fraud in relation to duty tour allowances (DTA); estacode; conference fees fraud and receiving kickbacks on contracts.

According to the EFCC, Oyo-Ita, as director, permanent secretary and head of service, used her companies as well as Effiok’s and Umar’s companies as fronts to receive kickbacks from contractors of various ministries and parastatal agencies she worked.

But at the resumed hearing on Wednesday, Abubakar, the prosecution counsel, was not in court.

However, Oyo-Ita’s Counsel, Paul Erokoro who was in court told Justice Taiwo Taiwo he did not know the reason for Abubakar’s absence.

The counsel then urged the court to grant an adjournment.

He said, “Since we do not know why they are not here, we ask for a fairly long adjournment to give the prosecution time subject to the court’s convenience.

“We also ask that they be issued hearing notices,”

Lawyers, who represented the other defendants, did not object to the application for an adjournment.

In his ruling however, Justice Taiwo said he took judicial notice of the prosecutor’s absence.

He also said a long adjournment could be granted since the matter “is not classified urgent and time-bound” and to give the prosecutor time to make himself available.

He therefore, adjourned the case until July 8, ordering that hearing notice should be served on the prosecution.

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