Clement Illoh, a former Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, on Friday prayed the Federal High Court in Lagos to quash the N14.1 million fraud charge against him for want of incriminating evidence.
lloh is being prosecuted by the EFCC for allegedly stealing the funds from the defunct Federal Government’s Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme.
Iloh, through his counsel, Victor Chinedu, in a no-case submission dated April 24, told the court: “It is our contention that the prosecution has failed to discharge the onus on making out a prima facie case that will warrant the defendant to defend this suit.
He said: “By Section 238(1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law, Your Lordship is obliged to discharge the defendant.
“Prosecution witnesses like PWIII gave contrary evidence during the trial.”
Chinedu noted that the charges brought by the EFCC against the former Permanent Secretary were “dead on arrival”.
He added: “Count III is about money laundering and it is defined as someone trying to hide the illicit source or origin of funds.
“The prosecution has failed to prove a specific amount of money allegedly laundered by the defendant.”
Rotimi Oyedepo, EFCC council, had in an address dated May 4, opposed the no-case submission of the defendant.
Addressing the court, Oyedepo gave reasons why the former Permanent Secretary should not be let off the hook.
He said: “My Lord, there are two categories of offences in this charge, the first is stealing and the second is conversion of property derived directly from illegal acts.
“It is my submission that it will amount to contesting the obvious in view of the evidence of the four witnesses and the evidence marked exhibits A to F that there is nothing linking the defendant to the charge.
“Exhibit A is an account opened in the name of Clement and Bob Associates.
“The prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt that he is the sole signatory of the account.
“Exhibit A linked him to the receipt of N14.1million from the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency.
“He cleverly concealed his identity and received the funds with an identity other than the one in which he is known as as a Permanent Secretary.”
Oyedepo noted that Illoh in his extra-judicial statement to the EFCC on May 19, 2016 admitted to be the individual running the Clement and Bob Associates bank account.
The EFCC prosecutor also noted that Orji Chukwuma, an investigator and the first prosecution witness in the case had provided irrefutable evidence to the court.
Oyedepo said: “The defendant in his statement admitted that he had never received a contract from NIMASA and that he refused to retire the funds he received from the organisation.
“Clement and Bob Associates is a business that had no meeting or contract with NIMASA and the Ministry of Labour and Productivity.
“Regarding count three, the evidence that the defendant concealed and converted the funds resides in Exhibit A and his statement is also a critical evidence to look at.
“I humbly request that My Lord should call upon this man to explain how he personally spent the funds.”
NAN reports that the defendant was arraigned on October 16, 2017 by the anti-graft agency on a three-count charge bordering on stealing by conversion of property to the tune of N14.1 million.
It was allegedly sourced from the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency.
He had pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Illoh was responsible for supervising numerous programmes including SURE-P and allegedly awarded fictitious contracts to himself via his company and friends.
The offences contravened Sections 279 (1), (b) and 285 (6) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011.
Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo adjourned the case until June 21 for ruling on the no-case submission.