Justice Mojisola Dada of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, on Monday, March 27, 2023, convicted one Adanu Blessing Ajumi, who was prosecuted for N47m fraud.
Adanu, who is accused of trading under the name and style of Emerald Multipurpose Cooperative Society to defraud her victims in a purported agribusiness scheme, was charged with two counts bordering on obtaining money by false pretence, contrary to Section 1(1) and 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006, and stealing, contrary to Section 278 and 285 of the Criminal Law of Lagos 2011.
One of the counts reads: “Adanu Blessing Ajumi, between the 30th day of November 2018 and the 11th day of January 2019 at Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, dishonestly stole and converted to your own use a cumulative sum of N47,575,000 (Forty-seven Million Five Hundred and Seventy-five Thousand Naira) from Mrs Favour Bukola Nnamani.”
She pleaded “not guilty” to the charges when she was arraigned on December 19, 2019, thereby leading to her trial that commenced on September 14, 2020.
In the course of the trial, the prosecution counsel, S.O. Daji, called three witnesses through whom several pieces of documentary evidence were tendered and admitted by the court against her.
The defence counsel, Peter Ola, called four witnesses, including the defendant who testified as the fourth witness.
However, the defendant stopped appearing in court upon the closure of her defence on June 30, 2022.
In view of this, Daji, at the proceedings of November 3, 2022, applied to the court to revoke the bail of the defendant and allow the trial to continue in absentia.
During the November 3, 2022 sitting, there was no objection from her counsel, O. Ajanaku, in court.
Justice Dada, therefore, revoked the bail earlier granted the defendant and further issued a bench warrant for her arrest.
Head, Media and Publicity, EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, said the judge also ordered that the EFCC declare her wanted.
On December 2, 2022, when the final addresses were to be adopted by both parties, Adanu was, again, absent, as Daji informed the court that frantic efforts were still being made to secure her arrest.
Daji, citing Section 14 (4) of the Criminal Law of Lagos Society, had urged the court to continue with the adoption of the final written addresses.
Following the adoption of the final written addresses by both parties, Justice Dada adjourned for judgment.
Delivering judgment today, Justice Dada dismissed the argument of the defence that the charges emanated from “contractual disputes that are purely civil in nature”.
The trial judge also held that, based on the evidence before the court, including the statements made by the defendant during interrogation, the prosecution effectively proved all the essential ingredients of obtaining by false pretence and stealing.
The trial judge further noted that, as argued by the prosecution, most economic and financial crimes arise from transactions that have a semblance of contractual transactions, but along the line, “a lot of factors come in to derail the smooth sail, when the heart of man begins to dialogue with the devil to outsmart another person and he succumbs to it.”
The court further noted that her oral testimony in court that the agribusiness was affected by flooding and Fulani herdsmen attacks were “an after-thought.”
The judge held that “She wanted to be living big at the expense of other people without counting the cost.
“Although the defendant seems to have absconded, having jumped the bail graciously granted her by this court, the truth is that she cannot run away from justice.
“From the foregoing, therefore, the evidence before the court clearly shows that the case against the defendant has been proved beyond every reasonable doubt on the two counts of obtaining the sum of N47, 575, 000.”
Consequently, Justice Dada declared the defendant guilty as charged on the two counts.
Her sentencing was, however, deferred in accordance with the Section 321 and 352 (5) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, in conjunction with Section 278 (1) of the ACJL 2015, “until when she is apprehended and brought before this court.”