Ikeja on Wednesday warned a Lagos hotelier, Augunos Okoro, standing
trial for duping a German businessman the sum of $330,000 (Three Hundred
and Thirty United States Dollars), against acts and devices aimed at
stalling his trial.
The EFCC headquarter
Okoro, whose trial ought to resume on Wednesday after several years
of adjournments and re-arraignments, slumped in court immediately his
application for adjournment of proceedings was dismissed by Justice
Ipaye. Okoro’s counsel, Olalekan Ojo had earlier made two prayers,
first was for his appearance in the matter and the other for the court
to grant him a short adjournment to enable him study the case, since he
was coming newly in the matter, but Justice Ipaye dismissed the
application and asked the prosecution to go on with the trial.
Prosecution counsel, Adebisi Adeniyi, called his witness: Rapheal
Onwuzurigbo, a retired Assistant Superintendent of Police attached to
the Forensic Analysis Unit.
After the witness had finished his introduction and was about to go
into the matter, Okoro abruptly slumped and thereby compelled the court
to adjourn the matter to 24 and 25 February, 2016. While adjourning the
matter, Justice Ipaye warned that this kind of stunt will no longer be
tolerated anymore in her court.
It would be recalled that Okoro, who is the proprietor of Lagos York
Hotels, was initially arraigned on May 30, 2003 before Justice Kudirat
Kekere-Ekun, and had pleaded not guilty to the charges. The case was
re-assigned to Justice Joseph Oyewole sometime in 2004. His trial before
Justice Oyewole was stalled as a result of his alleged-ill health.
However, following the elevation of Oyewole to the Appeal court, the
matter was transferred to Justice Ipaye which necessitated the defendant
to be re-arraigned.
On Monday, the EFCC Counsel, Taiwo Ogunleye, asked the court to order
Okoro, who was assisted into the dock, due to his alleged failing
health, to re-take his plea.
Ogunleye said that Okoro conspired with the duo of Morris Ibekwe (now
deceased) and Chief E.A. Okoro (still at large), to commit the offences
between October and November, 1992. According to her, Okoro obtained
the money from the complainant, one Klaus Munch and his firm, System
Organisation of Germany. The prosecutor said that Okoro claimed that the
money was for sundry payments to various government officials to
facilitate the award of a $30-million contract to the company. According
to her, Okoro allegedly perpetrated the fraud by forging the seal,
stamps and other documents of various Federal Government agencies.
Head, Media & Publicity
27th January, 2016