The Lagos Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Tuesday, February 28, 2023, secured the conviction and sentencing of Transport and Port Management System Limited, TPMS, a company owned by the late Beninoise business mogul, Jean Codo, before Justice Mojisola Dada of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos.
Codo and his company were both arraigned on Friday, December 13, 2019 on an eight-count charge bordering on stealing to the tune of €29 million (Twenty-Nine Million Euros), property of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
One of the counts reads: “That you, Jean Codo, and TPMS – Transport and Port Management Systems Ltd., between February and December 2011 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, dishonestly converted the total sum of €5,064,360, property of the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
Another count reads: “That you, Jeab Codo and TPMS – Transport and Port Management Systems Ltd., between February and November 2011 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, dishonestly converted the sum of €6,063,000, property of the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
They pleaded “not guilty” to the charges.
Head, Media and Publicity, EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, said In the course of the trial, the prosecution called five witnesses through whom several documentary evidence, from within and outside the country, were tendered to prove its case.
However, when the prosecution called its 5th witness in the course of the trial, Codo, who could not meet the bail conditions granted him by the court, died at the Ikoyi prison on Thursday, May 21, 2020.
When the notification of the death of the first defendant was brought to the attention of the court, his name was struck out from the charge.
Subsequently, the prosecution continued with the prosecution of the company.
After the prosecution had closed its case, counsel for the defendant, Lawal Pedro, SAN, filed a no-case submission.
The no-case submission was, however, dismissed by the court as lacking in merit and the defendant ordered to open his case.
The defence called only one witness, and both parties, thereafter, filed their written addresses.
In his final written address, Pedro urged the court to hold that the transaction, which formed the crux of the charges, was “purely a commercial transaction”; and so, should discharge and acquit the defendant.
The prosecution counsel, A.O. Mohammed, in his final address, urged the court to hold that the prosecution proved all the ingredients of stealing against the defendant and should convict the company as charged.
Delivering judgement, Justice Dada held that the prosecution effectively proved the charges and convicted the defendant as charged.
The trial judge further ordered the company to pay the sum of N100 million within seven days of the judgement “during which it shall be wound up and all its assets forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
The company was also ordered by the court to restitute the sum of €17,614,808.80 to the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA.