By Taiye Agbaje
Donnington Nigeria Ltd has dragged Mr Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Rural Electrification Agency (REA), and others to a Federal High Court, Abuja on criminal charges bordering on breach of the Money Laundering Act.
Ahmad (2nd defendant) was sued alongside a company, Velocity Logistics & Marine Limited (1st defendant), where he was alleged to be a director and shareholder on 12-count charge before Justice James Omotosho.
The charge is marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/175/2023.
The company alleged that Ahmad aided Velocity Logistics, a designated non-financial institution, between Jan. 2014 and Jan. 2018 in failing to report in writing to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) any lodgement or outflow transaction from the company’s Zenith Bank account number: 016639377 of the sums above N5 million.
This, it said, as required under Section 10(1)b of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 (as amended) and thereby committed an offence under Section 18(a) of the said Act and punishable under Section 16 (2)(b) of the same Act.
Donnington Nigeria Ltd, the complainant, also filed three different charges against three other companies and their directors.
In charge number: FHC/ABJ/CR/183/2023, the complainant, suing on Federal Government’s behalf, preferred 20 counts against Winslow Logistics Ltd and Mr Alkali Habib, a director and shareholder.
In charge number: FHC/ABJ/CR/176/2023, Sahams Crystal Investment Ltd and Abdulmumini Haruna are being sued on 14 counts also bordering on money laundering infractions.
Donnington also filed 10-count charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/183/2023 against Equip Logistics Services Limited and Edwin Iyk Anyadigibe, its director and a shareholder for failure to comply with the requirements of submitting to the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, a declaration of the activities of the company contrary to the money laundering act, among others.
Upon resumed hearing in the matter on Monday, Counsel to the complainant, Ugbede Idachaba, informed that the matter was scheduled for the arraignment of the defendants.
However, the REA’s MD, Mr Ahmad, and others were not in court.
Lawyers to all the defendants, including Mohammed Ndarami, SAN, who represented Ahmad and Velocity Logistics, and Victor Opera, SAN, who appeared for Equip Logistics, urged the court to dismiss the suits for being incompetent.
They said the charges filed against their clients were incompetent and that the court lacked the jurisdiction to hear the suits.
Ndaram, who said a preliminary objection was filed on June 16, informed that the defendants were not in court because they went on Hajj.
Justice Omotosho adjourned the four suits until June 26 for arraignment and for hearing of the preliminary objections filed by the defendants.
Speaking with newsmen shortly after the proceedings, Opara said a preliminary objection to challenge the jurisdiction of the cour had already been filed.
According to him, our conception is that the whole charge is incompetent and we have challenged the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the charge as constituted, instituted and prosecuted.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Donnington Ltd, in its arguments, said though there had been a long-held rule that a private citizen cannot institute and prosecute crime in Nigeria except with the consent and authorisation of the Attorney-General of the Federation, it said that “the rule has been overruled by the 2022 decision of the Supreme Court in the case of RAPHAEL OBIJIAKU Vs CHIEF JOE OBIJIAKU & 2 ORS (2022) 17 NWLR (PT. 1857) 377 at 405 Paras E- F.” (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
edited by Sadiya Hamza