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COURT ORDERS NIGERIA’S LONGEST SERVING REP MEMBER, MUTU TO ENTER DEFENCE IN 320MIL NAIRA MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGE

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The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has dismissed Nicolas Mutu’s (Delta-PDP) no-case submission in the alleged N320 million money laundering charge by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Justice Folashade Giwa-Ogunbanjo, in a ruling, directed Mr Mutu and his co-defendants to enter their defence as they have a case to answer regarding the allegations made against them.

Mr Giwa-Ogunbanjo held that the prosecution had adduced sufficient evidence to establish a prima facie case against the three defendants to warrant their being called upon to enter a defence.

The judge adjourned the matter until February 21 and 22 for the defendants to open their defence.

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The EFCC had, in the 13-count amended charge, sued Mr Mutu, who represents Bomadi/Patani Federal Constituency of Delta State, along with Airworld Technologies Ltd and Oyien Homes Ltd.

In the second amended charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/123/2019, dated November 22, 2021, and filed November 23, 2021, the defendants were arraigned on 13 counts but pleaded not guilty.

Mr Mutu was alleged to have committed the alleged offences between August 2014 and August 2016 when he served as the chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

In the charge, he was accused of procuring “Airworld Technologies Ltd to conceal of the sum of N320,159, 689.63 to be paid by Starline Consultancy Services Ltd when you reasonably ought to have known that the said sum of N320, 159, 689.63 formed part of proceeds of corruption, gratification and fraudulent acquisition of property.”

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While opposing the no-case submissions, prosecuting lawyer Ekele Iheanacho argued that the money paid to the defendants by Starline Consultancy, a contractor to NDDC, amounted to gratification.

Mr Iheanacho added that Mr Mutu used his official position as the chairman of the House Committee on NDDC to accept the various sums of money paid by the NDDC contractor.

The prosecuting lawyer contended that Mr Mutu’s alleged conduct violated both the provision of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences (ICPC) Act and Code of Conduct for public officers, which constitute predicate offences to the money laundering offence for which he was being prosecuted.

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