Justice Ridwan Aikawa of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Wednesday, April 17, 2019, adjourned the ongoing trial of the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Paul Usoro, SAN, over an alleged N1.4bn fraud charge to May 10, 2019.
Usoro was first arraigned before Justice M.S. Hassan of the same court for an offence bordering on money laundering to the tune ofN1, 410, 000, 000, 000.00 (One Billion, Four Hundred and Ten Million Naira) on Monday, December 18, 2018 before the case was transferred to Justice Aikawa.
One of the counts reads: “That you, Paul Usoro, SAN, Emmanuel Udom (currently constitutionally immune against criminal prosecution), Uwemedimo Thomas Nwoko (still at large), Nsikan Linus Nkan, Commissioner of Finance, Akwa Ibom State (still at large), Mfon Jacobson Udomah, Accountant-General, Akwa Ibom State (still at large) and Margaret Thompson Ukpe (still at large) sometime in 2015 in Nigerian, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable court, conspired amongst yourselves to commit an offence, to wit: conversion of the sum of N1, 410, 000, 000, 000 (One Billion, Four Hundred and Ten Million Naira), property of the Government of Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria, which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful activity to wit: criminal breach of trust and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.”
The defendant pleaded not guilty to the charges when they were read to him.
At the resumed hearing today, counsel to the defendant, Ifedayo Adedipe, SAN, informed the court that there was a pending application seeking the order of the court for the release of the international passport of the defendant to enable him attend some conferences outside the country.