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Alleged $2m Money Laundering: Partner In The Law Firm Of Africa Law Practice, Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie, Brother Loses Bid To Stall Re-Arraignment

BY FRANCIS IWUCHUKWU

IKOYI, LAGOS STATE, NIGERIA - Moves by a partner in the law firm of Africa Law Practice, and counsel to Atiku Abubakar, former vice president of Nigeria, Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie, to stop Justice Chuka Obiozor of a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos State, Nigeria, from retaking his plea over allegation of money laundering on Tuesday (today) failed.

This is because Justice Chuka Obiozor turned down the application for adjournment written by Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie's counsel.

Justice Chuka Obiozor equally threw out the application filed by Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie's brother, Eruhunse, wherein he urged the court to consolidate his charge with Atiku's son-in-law, Abdullahi Babalele, who is equally answering questions in another court for money laundering charges.

Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie alongside his brother, Eruhunse, are standing trial before Justice Chuka Obiozor on a three counts charge that had to do with money laundering to the tune of $2 million USD.

It would be recalled that Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie, alongside his brother, Eruhunse, were first arraigned before Justice Nicholas Oweibo on August 14, 2019, while the court was on annual vacation before Justice Nicholas Oweibo by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

But Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie, alongside his brother, Eruhunse, had pleaded not guilty to the charge and were admitted to bail in the sum of N20 million with two sureties in like sum.

However, when the court returned from its annual vacation, the money laundering case was reassigned to Justice Chuka Obiozor.

When the matter came up for hearing today, Johnson Samuel, lawyer to Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie, drew the attention of Justice Chuka Obiozor to the letter for adjournment from his principal.

Johnson Samuel also informed Justice Chuka Obiozor that his principal had requested for an adjournment to enable him to be in court when his client's plea will be taken.

Even on his part, Oladimeji Anjorin, lawyer to Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie's brother, equally drew the court's attention to the two letters written by his principal.

Specifically, one of the letters is seeking an adjournment for the hearing of the case today and the other is seeking consolidation of his client's charge with Alhaji Atiku's son-in-law, Abdullahi Babalele, in another court.

In his response, lawyer to the EFCC, Kufre Uduak, asked Justice Chuka Obiozor to refuse and dismiss the letters for adjournment as requested by the two senior lawyers, as there were no basis for such request since the court's business for the day was for plea to be taken.

Kufre Uduak equally prayed Justice Chuka Obiozor to refuse Erhunse's application seeking consolidation with Atiku's son-in-law, as the parties in the two charges were not the same.

Kufre Uduak also informed Justice Chuka Obiozor that he was not abreast with the facts in charges against Atiku's son-in-law, as he was not the counsel in the matter.

In his ruling, Justice Chuka Obiozor held that: "Unfortunately, there is nothing before me to know what FHC/L/484c/19, is all about. 

"This matter is not for counsel's plea, plea belongs to all defendants, after plea, commencement of trial.

Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie

"Now that this charge has been assigned to this court, there is no reason not to proceed today. 

"By NJC directive, court has the right to proceed with any case before it, even with the pendency of petition.

"The admin judge may or may not concede for the consolidation, until that decision is taken, I see no reason not to proceed with the case, particularly, as the business today is for plea.

"Finally, the application is refused and defendant is called upon to take his plea."

Shortly after Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie, alongside his brother, Eruhunse, took their plea, Justice Chuka Obiozor directed that they should continue with the earlier bail terms granted them by Justice Nicholas Oweibo.

Justice Chuka Obiozor adjourned the case until December 5, 2019, for commencement of trial and hearing the Court's Deputy Chief Registrar (DCR) on application for consolidation with Atiku's son-in-law's charge.

The charge designated FHC/L/283c/19, and filed against Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie, alongside his brother, Eruhunse, reads;

"That you Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie and Erhunse Giwa-Osagie, sometimes in February, 2019 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired to commit an offence to wit: making cash payment of the sum of $2,000,000.00 (Two Million United State Dollars) without going through financial institution which sum exceeded the amount authorized by law and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a), and 1(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act.

"That you Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie on or before the 12th day of February, 2019 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, procured Erhunse  Giwa-Osagie to make cash payment of the sum of $2, 000, 000. 00 (Two Million United State Dollars) without going through financial institution, which sum exceeded the amount authorized by Law and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(c) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act.

"That you Erhunse Giwa-Osagie sometimes in February, 2019 In Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court made the payment of the sum of  $2,000,000.00 (Two Million United State Dollars) without going through financial institution, which sum exceeded the amount authorized by Law and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Sections 1(a). & 16(1).(d) of the Money Laundering(Prohibition) Act, 2011 (As Amended) and Punishable under section 16 of the Same Act."

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