Emmanuel Thomas, Lagos
June 1, 2015 – A Federal High Court in Abuja will on June 8 rule on the N19.2bn fraud case instutited by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) against the former governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Timipre Sylva.
Sylva along with Francis Okokwo, Gbenga Balogun, and Samuel Ogbuku, are allegedly to have used three companies – Marlin Maritime Limited, Eat Catering Services Limited, and Halloween-Blue Construction and Logistics Limited to move about N19.2 billion from Bayelsa State coffers between 2009 and 2012, under false pretense of using the money to augment salaries of state government workers.
Last Wednesday, the court heard the two pending applications brought before it challenging the case. Counsel to Sylva, L. O. Fagbemi had brought an application before the court praying that the charges be quashed, since “there is nothing cogent enough to connect Sylva to the charges.
” Counsel to the fourth accused person, Ajayi Olowo, in his own application, challenged the jurisdiction of the court, arguing that since the case involved money belonging to the Bayelsa State government, “it amounts to abuse of court processes for the court to sit on the matter.”
Jacobs, told the court that there was indeed a prima facie case against Sylva and his co-accused, adding that because the money involved in the fraud case belonged to the Bayelsa State Government, does not amount to prosecution abusing court process.
“It is not ownership of the money, in this case Bayelsa, that confers jurisdiction, but where the offences took place, which in this case was Abuja,” he said, adding that there were serious allegations involving the accused persons.
“In this process, over N6,781,000,000 was paid into the accounts of Murtala Bashir and his various companies, which were mostly exchanged for dollars and handed over to Sylva,” Jacobs said.