Former Head of Service to the Federation, Stephen Oronsaye, was on Wednesday, May 18, 2016 re-arraigned before a Federal High Court, Abuja by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on an amended 35-count charge that borders on stealing and obtaining money by false pretence.
Included in the charges along with Mr Oronsaye are Osarenkhoe Afe, Fedrick Hamilton Global Services Limited, Cluster Logistic Limitd, Kangolo Dynamic Cleaning Limited, and Drew Investment & Construction Company Limited.
Oronsaye and Afe, who is the managing director of Fredrick Hamilton Global Services Limited, were present in court pleaded not guilty, but the other defendants were absent.
Prosecuting counsel, Leke Atolagbe urged the trial judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole to enter a plea of “not guilty” for the defendants who are absent in court, so that the trial can proceed; a plea that Justice Kolawole agreed to.
Following the “not guilty” plea by the accused persons, the prosecuting counsel asked the court to fix a date for the trial to commencement, adding that the prosecution has 22 witnesses it intended to present in court.
The defence counsels did not object to this but rather made an oral application that the court allow their clients to continue with the earlier bail granted them on July 21, 2015.
The trial judge acceded to the request and adjourned to June 9, 2016 for commencement of trial.
The former Head of Service was initially arraigned before Justice Kolawole on July 13, 2015, on a 25-count charge, to which he and his co-accused pleaded not guilty.
The case file, was however, erroneously transferred to Justice J. T. Tsoho of a Federal High Court, Abuja, who later on realizing the error, passed it back to Justice Kolawole on March 1, 2016.
Justice Kolawole explained that the error occurred when the Chief Judge redistributed cases to new judges posted to the Federal High Court, in order to decongest the court.