Judge’s absence stalls trial of ex-Union Bank chiefs, others

The absence of Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia of a Lagos Federal High Court on Friday stalled the trial of three ex-bank executives, facing alleged charge of money laundering.

The accused are a former Managing Director of Union Bank, Bartholomew Ebong, Henry Onyemem, Niyi Opeodu and Samuel Anyininuola, both former directors of the bank.

Also charged along with the accused are Falcon Securities Ltd and its Director, Peter Ololo.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on November 15, 2012, arraigned the accused before Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako of the same Lagos Federal High Court.

But the case was later re-assigned to Ofili-Ajumogobia, following the transfer of Murtala-Nyako from the Lagos division.

The EFCC in its charge sheet claimed that the accused used their former positions to unlawfully grant themselves loan facilities without securityBlue Print.

It added that the accused also approved for themselves loan facilities above the authorised limit, without getting the Central Bank of Nigeria’s authority as prescribed by law.

The EFCC said Ebong and other executives of the bank were also alleged to have granted several credit facilities to Falcon Securities in connivance with Ololo without collateral.

The anti-graft body said the offence contravened the provisions of Section 2(3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004 and punishable under Section 2(5) of the same act.

The accused who all pleaded not guilty to the charge, have been on bail, granted them by Murtala-Nyako.

But at the resumed trial on Friday, the matter could not go on due to the absence of the trial Judge.

The court’s registrar, however, announced January 27, a

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