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EFCC Arraigns Dasuki’s Aide, Ashinze, Others for N36.8bn Fraud

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has arraigned Nicholas Ashinze, a former special assistant to the embattled former National Security Adviser, NSA, Sambo Dasuki, before Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, Abuja on a 13-count charge of corruption and money laundering to the tune of N36.8 billion.

Ashinze was arraigned alongside an Austrian, Wolfgang Reinl, Edidiong Idiong and Sagir Mohammed, as well as five other companies allegedly involved in diverting the huge sum from the office of the former NSA.

The companies are: Geonel Integrated Services Limited, Unity Continental Nigeria Limited, Helpline Organization, Vibrant Resource LTD and Sologic Integrated Services Limited.

One of the charges read that Ashinze, then a serving officer of the Nigerian Army, and the Austrian, Reinl, “on or about 22nd April, 2014 at Abuja, in the Judicial Division of the Federal High Court did transfer the sum of Five Hundred and Fifty Million Naira (550,000,000.00) to Edidiong Idiong, being a lawyer practicing in the name of Law Partners & Associates, knowing that the said sum forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act.

According to the EFCC, the offense was “contrary to Section 15 (2) (b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as amended) and punishable under Section 15 (3) and (4) of the same Money Laundering (Prohibition), Act 2011 (as amended).”

The defendants pleaded not guilty to all the charges preferred against them.

Following their plea, counsel to EFCC, I. O Uket told the court that the prosecution team was ready for the trial to commence immediately, adding that the witnesses were present in court.

“If the court is ready, we are also ready to produce our first witness as we have our witnesses in court”, he said.

However, counsels to the accused persons urged the court to admit their clients on bail, but the defence counsel opposed the bail applications, insisting that the accused persons had lost their administrative bail the moment their matter was charged to court and their counsels filed applications for their bail.

He said: “We are aware that the defendants are enjoying administrative bail. Their counsels understand that any administrative bail granted ends as soon as the matter is brought to court and bail applications are filed.

“Such bail cannot be extended since the charges have now been preferred to the defendants. We therefore urge the court to deny the bail application”, he submitted.

Justice Kolawole in his ruling held that the charges are all bailable adding that, “since each of the defendants has been on one administrative bail or the other, my sixth judicial sense informs me that I adopt the terms and conditions of the bail granted to the defendants by the EFCC and my learned brothers in the FCT High Courts.”

The judge added that the case would be granted accelerated hearing and urged the prosecution to pick five days in the New Year for trial.

Consequently, the case was adjourned to January 23, February 1 &14, March 7 & 21, 2017.

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