The Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday ordered the arrest of former National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Director-General, Ambassador Ayodele Oke and his wife Folasade.
Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke issued a bench warrant for the couple’s arrest and detention following an application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to that effect.
Prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, told Justice Aneke that the defendants could not be found so as to be served with a money laundering charge filed against them.
He said the couple also refused to answer phone calls from EFCC operatives.
Moving the application, Oyedepo also urged the court to declare the defendants wanted.
He said: “The defendants are not in court and not represented. They are yet to be served with the charge.
“In the course of investigation, they provided an address in their statements. We have gone to that address but we didn’t find them. Their security confirmed they live there.
“We also made repeated calls to their numbers, but they chose not to pick our calls.
“In view of these, I urge your lordship to grant us a warrant of arrest of the defendants for the purpose of compelling their attendance in court.
“Section 114 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) empowers your lordship to do so. We’re ready to produce them if we obtain the order.”
Oyedepo said the suspects, who had no legal representation, could not claim ignorant of the charge as the case had been in the news since it was initiated.
“We pray for an additional order declaring them wanted,” the lawyer prayed.
Ruling, Justice Aneke held that the application was meritorious in view of the prosecution’s explanations.
“Consequent upon the difficulties encountered by the prosecution in having them appear before the honourable court to stand their trial, I am convinced that the application is not without merit.
“In the circumstances, I hereby accordingly issue an order of warrant of arrest against the first defendant in accordance with Section 114 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015.”
Justice Aneke, however, refused the prayer to declare them wanted.
He said they would only be declared wanted if EFCC does not succeed in executing the bench warrant after trying.
Oke and his wife were charged in connection with the $43, 449, 947, 000 found in Flat 7B, No. 16 Osborne Road, Osborne Towers in Ikoyi Lagos.
Justice Muslim Hassan had on June 6, 2017, granted a final forfeiture order of the funds.
EFCC said the Okes, on or about April 12, 2017 in Lagos, concealed $43, 449, 947, 000, property of the Federal Government in Flat 7B, No. 16 Osborne Road, Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos.
It said they reasonably ought to have known that the sum formed part of proceeds of an unlawful act to wit: criminal breach of trust.
The commission said the couple, between August 25 and September 2, 2015 in Lagos, indirectly used $1, 658, 000, property of the Federal Government, to acquire the flat.
They were also accused of directly retaining $160, 777, 136.85, property of the Federal Government, between August 25 and September 2, 2015 in Lagos.
EFCC said they “reasonably ought to have known” that the sum “formed part of proceeds of an unlawful act to wit: criminal breach of trust”.
In the fourth and final count, the prosecution said Oke and his wife, within the same period, “directly converted $160, 777, 136.85, property of the Federal Government of Nigeria to your own use.”
The alleged offence in all the counts, EFCC said, are contrary to Section 15 (2) (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.
Justice Aneke adjourned until March 18 for report of compliance.