July 13, 2024

Alleged N266m fraud: Absence of defence counsel stalls trial of fake Army General

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Etim Ekpimah

The trial of one Bolarinwa Abiodun, a self-professed Army General who is being prosecuted on a 13-count charge bordering on obtaining money by false pretence, forgery of documents and possession of documents containing false pretence to the tune of alleged N266, 500,000 fraud before Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos was, on April 29, 2022, stalled due to the absence of the defence counsel, Kayode Lawal.

The Lagos Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had, on April 11, 2022, arraigned the defendant on offences contrary to Section 1 (3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Related Offences Act 2006, Section 363 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2015 and Section 6 of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Related Offences Act No 14 of 2006, respectively.

One of the counts reads: “Bolarinwa  Oluwasegun Abiodun, between 15th June 2020 and 31st December 2020 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud and whilst holding yourself out as a General in the Nigerian Army, obtained the sum of N111,400,000 from Kodef Clearing Resources Limited, under the pretence that the sum represented part of the amount expended to “press and process” your incoming appointment by the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, as the CHIEF OF ARMY STAFF of the Nigerian Army, which pretence you knew to be false.”

Another count reads: “Bolarinwa Oluwasegun Abiodun, sometime in May 2020 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, knowingly forged LETTER OF APPOINTMENT AS CHIEF OF ARMY STAFF dated 20th May 2020 and purported the said document to have emanated from the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which document you know to be false.”

He pleaded “not guilty” to the charges.

At the last sitting on April 25, 2022, a prosecution witness narrated how the defendant, posing as the son of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, had defrauded him of almost N300 million.

Testifying as the first prosecution witness, Bamidele Olusegun Safiriyu, the victim, who was led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, had narrated how the defendant defrauded him in a well-calculated fraud scheme to the tune of N266, 500,000.

Following the conclusion of his examination-in-chief, Justice Taiwo adjourned till April 29, 2022(today) for “cross-examination”.

However, at today’s proceedings, the defence counsel was absent in court, thus stalling the cross-examination of the witness.

When the defendant was asked about the whereabouts of his counsel, he said, “He called my brother that he is not feeling fine.”

Oyedepo, however, expressed disappointment, stressing that the defence counsel had the phone contacts of the prosecution and never deemed it appropriate to call and inform the prosecution that he would not be in court.

“I called him when I discovered that he was not in court and he was sounding very lively. He said “Ha!, that he has sent his junior. But there is no representation here in court for the defendant”.

Oyedepo, who told the Court that there were two prosecution witnesses in court to testify, further added that: “My lord, we have undertaken not to delay this matter and we stand by our word.”

Also expressing shock at the attitude of the defence counsel, Justice Taiwo said: “The Court is not a marketplace where you can just do anyhow.”

Thereafter, Justice Taiwo adjourned till May 4 and 6, 2022 for further hearing.

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