Due Process: Court fixes Mar. 11 for Judgment In criminal case against IoD president, others

A Federal High Court, Lagos, today, fixed March 11, for judgment in a criminal charge filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against Mr. Samuel Akinyemi Akeju, President of Institute of Directors (IoD), and two others.

The court presided over by Justice Ibrahim Nasir Buba, fixed the date for judgment, after the prosecution and counsel to the defendants had argued their final written address.

Akeju alongside the Secretary of Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Plc (NSPM), Mrs Abieyuwa Aideyan and a limited liability company, First Grant Nigeria Limited, were first arraigned before the court in March 13, 2017, on charges bordering on acting contrary to the Public Procurement Act.

The EFCC in an amended charge marked FHC/L/41c/17, Akeju and his company were alleged to have on September 10, 2012, unduly influence the opening competitive bidding as contained in the Guardian newspaper advertisement of July 18, 2012, for disposal of government property known as Pacific Village, located at Ijede, in  Ikorodu Local Government area of  Lagos State by directly contacting the managing director/chief executive officer, and the secretary of Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Plc (NSPMP), instead of contacting M&G Chambers, Victoria Island, as required in the advertisement, which resulted in his offer for the acquisition of the land at the sum of N200 million.

The antigraft agency had also alleged in the charge that the NSPMP’s Secretary,  Mrs. Aideyan, had on or about November 18, 2012, restricted the process of opening competitive bidding in the disposal of the said property ‘Pacific Village’, when she unduly favoured Akeju’s company, ‘First Grant Nigeria Limited, which submitted her offer for the acquisition of the property directly to the office of the managing director/chief executive officer of NSPMP, and rejected the offer submitted by Adprint Network Limited, and Duexville Limited submitted  through M&G Chambers, as required in Guardian’s advertisement of July 18, 2012.

The offences according to EFCC are contrary to Sections 16(23) and 55(3), and punishable under sections 58(1)  and 58(8) of the Public Procurement Act, 2007.

The two defendants had pleaded not guilty to the charge and admitted to bail.

At the resumed adoption and arguments of final written addresses, lawyers
 to the defendants, led by Segun Sipeolu, while urging the court to discharge and acquit their clients of the allegations, said what the prosecution only relied on and predicated the charge against the defendants was a document ‘petition’.

He also told the court that the issue that led to the petition was a commercial transaction, which several authorities had pronounced that the security agencies including EFCC must not be used to settled between parties.

He therefore urged the court to discharge and acquit their clients.

Responding, the EFCC lawyer, Mr.  George Chia-Yakua, while urging the court to pronounce the defendants guilty as charged and convict them accordingly, told the court that the charge against them was not predicated of any petition, but against the Section 16 (1) of the public Procurement Act.

Chia-Yakua told the court that the processes taken by the defendants in selling the government property was not transparent.

He added that a bid of N250 million was made for the said property but the defendants sold it at the price lesser that that after two years of the bid.

He therefore urged the court to hold that the prosecution had been able to prove its case against the defendants beyond every reasonable doubt and convict them as charged.

Upon listening to the both parties, Justice Buba adjourned the matter till March 11, for judgment

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