A Federal High Court sitting at Ikoyi, Lagos, presided over by Justice Babs Kuewumi today, Wednesday, October 3, ordered that Gbenga Makanjuola, a former Deputy Chief Of Staff to the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, alongside two others be remanded in prison custody till next week Tuesday, when their bail applications would be decided.
Other persons ordered to be remanded in prison custody alongside Makanjuola are Obiora Amobi and Kolawole Shittu, a cashier in the Senate President’s office.
Justice Kuewumi made the remand order after taking the defendants’ pleas in an 11 count-criminal charges bothering on the Paris Club Refund fraud leveled against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
But Makanjuola and others pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Whilst the defendants were being arraigned, counsel to the EFCC, Ekene Iheanacho, argued that the trio, a limited company, Melrose General Services Limited, and one Robert Chidozie Mbonu (now at large), had sometimes in December 2016, conspired among themselves to disguise the origin of the sum of N3.5 billion, which was paid into Melrose General Services Limited account number 0005892453 with the new generation bank.
The Commission’s lawyer further informed Justice Kuewumi that the third defendant, Amobi, who is the Operations Manager of Melrose General Services Limited, between December 15 and 17, 2016, made a cash payment of N300 million to Robert Mbonu (now at large) from the said N3.5 billion, without going through any financial institution.
Iheanacho equally told the judge that Makanjuola, and the cashier in the Senate President’s office, Shittu, in December 2016, made cash payment of a total of $1.5 million USD, of $500, 000, on three tranches, between themselves without going through a financial institution.
According to the EFCC, the alleged offence is contrary to Section 18, 15(2)(d), 15(2)(b) 1(a) and 16(2)(b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011, and punishable under Sections 15(3) and 16 (2)(b) of the same act.
However, as a result of their not guilty plea, Justice Kuewumi directed that the defendants be remanded in prison custody pending the hearing and determination of their bail application.
The Judge then adjourned until next week Tuesday, October 9, to entertain their application and rule on same.
It is recalled that the N3.5 billion is part of the Paris Club refund to state government through the Governor’s Forum which was illegally diverted into private purse using Melrose General Services Limited, a private company, as conduit pipe.