Alleged $5m Fraud: Court Adjourns Trial of Pilot, Businessman Till May 31
Justice Mojisola Dada of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, on Wednesday, May 24, 2023, adjourned till May 31, 2023, further hearing in the trial of the duo of Victor Uadiale and Capt. Everest Nnaji over an alleged $5m fraud.
The defendants are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for an amended five-count charge bordering on conspiracy and obtaining by false pretence to the tune of $5 million.
Justice Dada had, on March 23, 2023, dismissed the no-case submission filed by the defendants as lacking merit and also ordered them to open their defence today( May 24, 2023).
One of the counts reads: “That you, Victor Uadiale (aka Victor Emeka/Amaka Emeka), Captain Everest Nnaji and Ismail Lawal (now at large), between 22nd April and 12th day of October 1998, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud, obtained the aggregate sum of $1,292,000.00 (One Million, Two Hundred and Ninety-two Thousand United States Dollar) from Tawfeeq A. Al-Omar, a Kuwaiti national, by falsely representing to him that the said sum represented payment for Urea Phosphate fertilizer, which you claimed was procured from National Fertilizer Company of Nigeria (NAFCON), Port Harcourt and Bonny Light crude oil, which pretext you knew to be false and committed an offence contrary to Section 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, No. 13 of 1995 as amended by Act No. 62 of 1999.”
They pleaded “not guilty” to the charges preferred against them when they were first arraigned on December 14, 2018, and maintained the same plea to the amended charges.
The victim, Tawfeeq A. Al-Omar, a Kuwaiti national, had testified as the first prosecution witness, and narrated how he unwittingly fell into the trap of parting with his money.
At today’s proceedings, the first defendant, Uadiale, who took to the dock to defend himself, denied knowing the Al-Omar, as well as Nnaji, the second defendant, with whom he is standing trial.
Led in evidence by his counsel, Olalekan Ojo, SAN, Uadiale, who described himself as a businessman, said: “I don’t know the second defendant and I only met him at the EFCC facility.
“I don’t also know Tawfeeq Al-Omar and all the allegations are like a drama, a story from the pit of hell.
“The very first day that I was confronted with the allegations, I told the EFCC operatives that I do not know this man, and I have no idea whether he existed.
“All the allegations during the course of this trial are fabricated lies and I re-affirm that I do not know this man.”
Earlier in the course of the proceedings, Ojo had moved an application seeking the leave of the court to appeal the ruling of the trial judge dismissing the no-case submission of his client.
Counsel for the second defendant, Olanrewaju Fagbohun, SAN, also moved the same application on behalf of his client.
The prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, raised no objection.
The applications were afterwards granted by the trial judge, who noted that, for a criminal matter, they needed not to seek the leave of the court with regard to appealing the ruling.
The case was adjourned till May 31, 2023 for continuation of trial.