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Friday, July 19, 2024

Court rules House member has case to answer

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The Federal High Court in Abuja has ruled that a member of the House of Representatives, Nicholas Mutu, has a case to answer in a N320 million money laundering case.

On Monday, the trial judge, Folashade Giwa-Ogunbanjo, dismissed the no-case submission filed by the accused after the prosecution closed its case with four witnesses.

The judge set February 21 to open his defense, according to a statement issued this Tuesday by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

EFCC had charged Mr Mutu along with Airworld Technologies Ltd and Oyien Homes, with 13 counts of money laundering and gratification to the tune of N320 million. They allegedly committed the crimes between August 2014 and August 2016.

Read the full EFCC statement below:

N320m money laundering charge: You have a case to answer – court tells representatives

Justice F. Giwa Ogunbanjo of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, Monday, January 22, 2024, told a member of the House of Representatives, Nicholas Mutu, that he has a case to answer in an alleged money laundering case of N320 million filed against by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Mutu, together with Airworld Technologies Ltd and Oyien Homes, were brought to court by the EFCC on an amended 13-count charge bordering on money laundering and gratification to the tune of N320 million between August 2014 and August 2016. He was arraigned in court while serving as Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.

The prosecution, at the last adjourned date, closed its case after presenting four witnesses, while the defense refused to present arguments.

READ ALSO: Absence of witness stalls Mompha’s N6 billion money laundering trial

Justice Ogunbanjo, ruling on the no-show submission on Monday, January 22, 2024, told the accused to present his defense and ruled that the prosecution had presented sufficient evidence to establish a prima facie case against Mutu.

EFCC counsel Ekele Iheanacho, in his objection to the “non-filing of cases” by the defence, argued that the money paid to the accused by Starline Consultancy, a contractor of NDDC, was a gratuity.

Iheanacho further told the court that Mutu used his official position, as chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on NDDC, to influence the payment of money paid by NDDC contractors, using Airworld Technologies Ltd.

After ruling that Mutu had a case to answer, Justice Ogunbanjo adjourned the case until February 21-22, 2024.

Dele Oyewale

Head, Media and Advertising

January 23, 2024

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