The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has filed an amended 12-count criminal charge before a Lagos High Court against two citizens of Republic of Benin, Gnanhoe Sourou Nazaire and Senou Modeste Finagnon over alleged N630m.
The defendants are standing trial for allegedly defrauding one Rachidatou Abdou and her company to the tune of N630m.
At the resumed hearing of the criminal suit on Wednesday, EFCC counsel, Kayode Oni informed the court of the amended charge and urged the court to allow it to be read to the defendants.
Defence lawyer, Rickey Tarfa (SAN) told the court that he had no objection but requested for an interpreter since the defendants only speak French language.
At this stage, the trial judge, Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo directed the prosecution to provide an interpreter but none was available.
“We cannot proceed without an interpreter. The prosecution needs to expedite action in this case’’, judges Taiwo added.
The matter has been adjourned till October 31 for fresh arraignment.
The defendants were first arraigned on February 17, on a seven-count charge of forgery, stealing and conversion of funds.
However, they pleaded not guilty alleging that the charge was incompetent and that the EFCC was prosecuting them without any valid petition.
But, dismissing the application, Justice Taiwo upheld the contention of prosecuting counsel Rotimi Oyedepo that the Commission received a valid petition from the complainant alleging conspiracy and stealing against the defendants.
It held that Lagos High Court has jurisdiction to hear the matter and that the charge did not fall under the Companies and Allied Matters Act.
“I believe the High Court is endowed with jurisdiction to enter the matter,” the court held. The stealing of company funds falls within the jurisdiction of the EFCC. The combined effect of Sections 6(b) and 46 of the EFCC Act gives it power to entertain the petition written against the defendants.”
On if the charge is an abuse of court process, the court held: “The fact that the defendants have been arraigned before a sister court does not make the present case abuse of court process.