The sitting for the arraignment of Nnamdi Okonkwo, the Fidelity Bank Plc managing director has been adjourned till January 14, 2019, by a Federal High Court in Lagos. Nnamdi Okonkwo is being charged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for allegedly laundering the sum of $153, 310, 000. Former petroleum minister, Diezani Allison-Madueke and a Ben Otti whose arraignments were supposed to be held on the same day were alleged to be at large.
Others to be arraigned alongside the former bank boss are Dauda Lawal, Lanre Adesanya, and Stanley Lawson. Barrister Rotimi Oyedepo, the EFCC prosecutor told the court on the day of arraignment that Nnamdi Okonkwo and Dauda Lawal were in court while Lanre Adesanya and Stanley Lawson weren’t.
He, therefore, urged the court to issue a bench warrant against the defendants who were absent to enable the prosecution to get them to attend trial.
The counsel representing the absentee defendants, Mr. Ademola Adesina begged the court to not issue bench warrants as the absentee defendants were held back by strong extenuating circumstances – both receiving medical treatment – abroad. He promised that both defendants would be present in court upon their return.
He then asked the judge that the case be adjourned.
The two senior advocates, Dr. Hassan Liman, and Ishaka Dikko appearing for the second defendant Dauda Lawal told the court they were worried about the liberty of their client due to fears they might be arrested after leaving the premises of the court. They thus asked that the prosecution assure them their client’s rights will not be violated.
Two other senior advocates, Mr. Paul Erokoro and Dr. Dapo Olanipekun who were representing Nnamdi Okonkwo also expressed a similar fear that their clients could be arrested outside court premises. The Counsel for the EFCC, Mr. Oyedepo responded to these fears by urging the defence lawyers to give an undertaking that they were going to present their clients in the next adjourned date.
The presiding Judge Muslim Hassan, while adjourning till January 14, 2019, for the arraignment of the defendants ordered that the right of the defendants should not be tampered with.
In a 14 count charge filed before the court by EFCC prosecutor Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, it was alleged that Nnamdi Okonkwo, Dauda Lawal ,Lanre Adesanya, Stanley Lawson and (Dieziani Alison Madueke and Ben Otti now at large) between 2014 and 2015 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of the court conspired amongst themselves to conceal in Fidelity Bank Plc the total sum of $153,310,000 which sum they reasonably ought to know forms part of unlawful activity to wit: corruption and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 18(a) 15(2) (a) of the money laundering (prohibition) Act2011as amended and punishable under section 15(3) of the same Act.