By Sandra Umeh
#TrackNigeria: A Federal High Court in Lagos will on March 19 decide whether a prosecution witness, Mr Eyituoyo Nogbeyintere, can testify in the trial of a People’s Democratic Party chieftain, Peter Nwoboshi, facing charges of N322 million money laundering.
Nwoboshi, representing Delta North Senatorial District in the Senate, is being prosecuted by the Eeconomic and Ffinancial Crimes Commission (EFCC) along with two companies – Golden Touch Construction Projects Ltd. and Suiming Electricals.
The commission re-arraigned the accused before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke on Oct. 5, 2018, following the elevation of the previous trial judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, to the Court of Appeal.
The accused pleaded not guilty before both Idris and Aneke.
Aneke allowed him to continue with bail granted him by Idris.
On Thursday, trial could not proceed as slated because defence raised an objection to the evidence of Nogbeyintere, the third prosecution witness, on the grounds that he was not listed as a witness in the proof of evidence.
The Prosecution counsel, Mr A. O. R. Ogunde (SAN), had called Nogbeyintere, who is a staff of Zenith Bank Plc to give evidence.
However, defence counsel, Messrs George Uwechue (SAN) and C. K. Nmagwu, said that he was neither listed as a witness nor his statement frontloaded in the proof of evidence.
Defence counsel told the court that allowing him to testify would amount to ‘ambush’, and would deny the accused fundamental rights.
The counsel, therefore, urged the court to disallow the bank official from testifying in the trial.
Responding, the prosecutor argued that the witness was a representative of Zenith bank which was listed to testify in the matter, adding that the witness would give evidence on behalf of the bank.
He argued that the defence could not claim an infringement on the accused’s rights, and urged the court to allow the witness give evidence.
Aneke adjourned the case for ruling and for continuation of trial.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that EFCC alleged that Nwaoboshi and Golden Touch Construction Projects, purchased a 12-storey building, known as Guinea House, on Marine Road in Apapa, Lagos, for N805 million in May 2014 and June 2014.
The anti-graft agency claimed that N322 million out of the N805 million was part of proceeds of fraud.
It alleged that the N322 million was transferred to the property’s vendor on the order of Suiming Electricals which, it said, aided the accused to commit money laundering.
The alleged offences contravene Sections 15(2)(d) and 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011. (NAN)