by Azeez Adeniyi
Four firms convicted for laundering $15.591 million allegedly belonging to former First Lady Patience Jonathan have filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal in Lagos.
The companies are: Pluto Property and Investment Company Ltd, Seagate Property Development and Investment Co. Ltd, Trans Ocean Property and Investment Co. Ltd and Avalon Global Property Development Ltd.
Representatives of the firms had pleaded guilty to laundering the money when they were arraigned before Justice Babs Kuewumi of the Federal High Court in Lagos.
They were Friday Davis, Agbor Baro, Dioghowori Frederick and Taiwo Ebenezer.
But the companies through their counsel, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), said the identities of those who pleaded guilty were unverified.
The companies were arraigned alongside former Special Adviser on Domestic Affairs to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Waripamo Dudafa, a lawyer, Amajuoyi Briggs and a banker, Adedamola Bolodeoku.
In the appeal, the firms said, “The persons purporting to be representing of the cross-appellants failed to produce such statement of appointment, which needed not to be under seal.
“By virtue of Section 478 of the ACJA 2015, the Honourable Court ought to have entered a plea of ‘not guilty’ for the cross-appellants, rather than allow the unverified plea of ‘guilty’ by persons purporting to be representing the cross appellants”.
Ozekhome said: “The proof of evidence as borne out by court’s records shows that the purported representatives had denied ever having anything to do with the cross-appellants (companies), who are corporate entities, in their extra-judicial statements, which were presented before court by the complainant.
“The purported representatives of the cross appellant had also alleged that their signatures on the forms CAC 02 and Bank Mandate forms were forged.
“The purported representatives of the cross-appellants, could not, on the face of incontrovertible facts, including their own extra-judicial statements, be taken as the authentic representatives of the cross-appellants to the extent of even pleading ‘guilty’ to a charge against the cross-appellants.”