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Absence of EFCC counsel stalls N675m spiritual cleansing fraud trial

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The absence of prosecution counsel, on Thursday stalled the trial of Abayomi Alaka, an alleged kingpin of a cultist group, Badoo, charged with N675 million spiritual cleansing fraud.

Our correspondent, reports that Alaka was arraigned alongside Morufu Yahaya, Omitogun Ajayi and Ajisegiri Abiodun, on a two-count charge bordering on obtaining money under false pretences, in which they pleaded not guilty.

Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo, said the record of the court was clear on what happened on the last date of adjournment.

Taiuwo stressed that though the prosecution counsel, Mr Nkereuwem Anana, came late for the matter, he was present in court.

“My record is very clear on what happened on the last adjournment date. Mr Anana was present in court. He was late and the court had to wait for him, so it was not correct that he was not present in court,” she said.

Taiwo adjourned the case until June 21, for continuation of trial.

A senior counsel from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mrs Joy Amahian, had earlier expressed the anti graft agency’s regrets that Anana, who was handling the trial, had been transferred to another jurisdiction.

Amahian further pleaded with the court to grant them adjournment to enable the commission assign another counsel to take over the case file.

The defence counsel, Mr Olalekan Ojo (SAN), did not oppose the plea for adjournment, but expressed dismay that EFCC did not make arrangements to ensure Thursday’s trial was not forestalled.

He added that EFCC did not give the defence’s teams update, and had wasted their time in coming to court.

“I’m surprised that the agency will transfer counsel without an adequate replacement. It is not also good that they did not communicate to us that the matter is not going on today. If they had told me I will not be in this court today,” Ojo said.

The EFCC, however, objected to Ojo’s position, adding that Anana was not in court on the last adjournment date, but that a junior counsel from the commission stood in for him.

Our correspondent reports that EFCC alleged that sometime in May, 2018, the defendants obtained the sum N675 million from one Dr. and Dr. Mrs Lateef Bello, on the pretence of conducting prayers for them for the spiritual cleansing of their son and the family.

The prosecution also submitted that the complainants wrote a petition to the EFCC to report the case after the defendants refused to refund the money as promised.

The prosecution said the alleged offence contravened Section 410 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2011

Adenike Ayodele

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