Commercial Law

EFCC closes N1.4bn fraud case against former NBA President, Usoro

By Michael Ojo

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday closed its case in the ongoing alleged N1.4billion fraud trial of former Nigerian Barr Association (NBA) President, Mr Paul Usoro, SAN.

EFCC Counsel Mr Uduak Kufre told Justice Rilwan Aikawa of the Federal High Court in Lagos that the prosecution was pleased with the evidence it adduced so far in the case.

He prayed the court to discharge the agency’s second and last witness, Mohammed Arabo.

Responding, Mr Effiong O. Effiong, SAN, who led other three Senior Advocates of Nigeria including Shina Sofola SAN as Counsel to Usoro, informed the court of the defendant’s intention to file a ‘no case’ submission.

Justice Aikawa adjourned till March 12, for adoption of the no case submission.

Usoro was arraigned for the alleged offence on December 18, 2018 before Justice Muslim Hassan of the same court.

He was re-arraigned on March 1, 2019 on a 10-count charge bordering on laundering money for the Akwa-Ibom State officials to the tune of N1.4bn.

One of the counts against the defendant reads: “That you, Paul Usoro, SAN, Emmanuel Udom (currently constitutionally immune against criminal prosecution), Uwemedimo Thomas Nwoko (still at large), Nsikan Linus Nkan, Commissioner of Finance, Akwa Ibom State (still at large), Mfon Jacobson Udomah, Accountant-General, Akwa Ibom State (still at large) and Margaret Thompson Ukpe (still at large), sometime in 2015 in Nigeria, conspired…to commit an offence, to wit: conversion of N1,410,000,000,000 property of the Government of Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria.”

The EFCC claimed that they reasonably ought to have known the money was “part of the proceeds of an unlawful activity to wit: criminal breach of trust and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.”

Usoro pleaded “not guilty”.

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