The case involving a former governor of Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva, who is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a fresh 50 count charge bordering on stealing and money laundering, came up for mention on Thursday before Justice A. F. Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Sylva is charged alongside Francis Okokuro, Gbenga Balogun, and Samuel Ogbuku. The trio allegedly used three companies – Marlin Maritime Limited, Eat Catering. Services Limited, and Haloween-Blue Construction and Logistics Limited to move over N19.2 billion from Bayelsa State coffers between 2009 and 2012.
Justice A. R. Mohammed of the Federal High Court had on 10th June 2015 dismissed the 42- count charge of stealing earlier brought against Sylva and his co-accused by the EFCC, with the excuse that the prosecution’s application to consolidate the charges before him, against the defendants, amounted to an abuse of court process.
The Commission faulted the ruling on the grounds that it was premature as the accused persons had not even taken any plea before the court, and subsequently filed the fresh 50 count charge at the Federal High Court. At the resumed hearing before Justice Ademola, Sylva, Okokuro and Ogbuku were present in court.
The accused persons were to take their pleas, but this could not happen, as there was a pending application before the court. Ajayi Olowo, counsel to Balogun had filed a preliminary objection, challenging the jurisdiction of the court, to hear the case.
Counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, also told the court that investigators who visited Port Harcourt, Rivers State, discovered that the addresses of Eat Catering Services Limited, and Haloween-Blue Construction and Logistics Limited were non-existent.
Ademola adjourned till 9th July 2015 for continuation of hearing and ruling on the application brought before it.