Alleged N130m fraud: Court orders arraignment of property developer for alleged harassment, threat to life

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By Veronica Dariya

Justice Mohammed Madugu of the FCT High Court, siting in Bwari has ordered that one Cecil Osakwe, a defendant in a case of alleged criminal intimidation be arraigned before the court.

Madugu ordered that Osakwe should be arraigned in the court on Nov. 6.

The judge gave the order in his ruling on Friday, following a motion for preliminary objection filed earlier by Osakwe’s Counsel, Mr Victor Giwa, asking the court to disregard the suit before it, based on an earlier judgment in another court.

Madugu, however, said that the earlier case with suit no: FCT/C/2435/2021, whose judgment was delivered by Justice Usman Othman in an FCT High Court in Jabi, Abuja was distinctively different from the one before him.

While noting that the parties involved in the matter were not the same and that the issues raised were also not the same, the judge explained that one was a civil case and the other, a criminal case.

“The defendant here is charged with potential criminal liability for a separate alleged offence, based on inquiries of police investigation, which includes intimidation, threat to life, harassment and fraud.

“The court is guided by principles of law. Civil and criminal matters are different. Civil matters do not automatically exonerate an individual from a potential criminal charge.

“I must emphasise, the judgement in a civil case with suit no: FCT/CV/2435/2021, does not absolve Mr Cecil Osakwe from a potential criminal activity.

“It is in the interest of justice that the defendant determines his innocence with respect to the claimant’s charge.’’

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According to Madugu, the defendant is to be arraigned and plea charges filed against him.

“The arraignment is to provide the prosecution an opportunity, to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt while the defendant stands in defence.”

The judge while refusing the defence notice of preliminary objection also adjourned the matter until Nov. 6 for arraignment of the suspect.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the defendant, Cecil Osakwe, a property developer, was charged with fraud and criminal intimidation of one Ms Asabe Waziri.

In the charge, with number CR/244/2022, dated June 9, 2022 and filed on June 14, 2022, Osakwe was accused of Advanced Fee Fraud, punishable under Section 3(1) of the Laws of the Federation, 2004.

Osakwe was accused of threatening Waziri with injury, and intent to cause her harm and even death.

The act was allegedly, to cause Waziri to stop requesting her receipt of payment for the purchase of a unit of two bedroom flat with a maid’s quarter at Abeh Signature Apartments in Maitama Abuja.

Maitama is a cozy suburb of Abuja.

The charge read: “That you Cecil Osakwe, male, adult of Abeh Signature Ltd., sometime in 2021 in Abuja, Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this honourable court obtained by false pretence and with intent to defraud, the sum of N130,000,000 00.

“The sum is payment for the purchase of a two-bedroom flat with a maid’s quarter at Abeh Signature Apartment, located at No. 1, Mekong Close, Maitama, Abuja from one Ms Asabe Waziri.

“You failed to deliver the property and you did not refund her money.

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“You thereby committed an offence, contrary to Section 3 (1), and punishable under same Section of the Advance Fee Fraud, Cap. Ab, LFN, 2004.

“That you Cecil Osakwe, male, adult of Abeh Signature Limited, sometime in 2021 in Abuja, Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this honourable court threatened Ms Asabe Waziri with injury to her person and reputation.

“This you did with intent to cause harm and even death in order to cause her to stop requesting legitimately from you her receipt for payment for the purchase of a unit of two bedroom flat with a maid’s quarter at Abeh Signature Apartment, 1, Mekong Close, Abuja from you and the deeds of assignment thereof.

“You thereby committed an offence, contrary to Section 396 (2) and punishable under Section 397(a) of the Penal Code Law (Cap. 89).”

NAN also reports that the matter was re-assigned to Justice Mohammed Madugu after the defendant failed on three occasions, to appear before Justice Mohammed Idris of the FCT High Court, sitting in Jabi for arraignment.

The Defence Counsel, Mr Victor Giwa, had earlier, argued that the subject-matter before the court by the prosecuting counsel had previously been decided and settled by another court in a suit file: FCT/HC /CV/2435/ 2021 on March 17, 2022.

In a preliminary objection, Giwa submitted that the court should decline the prosecutor’s application to re-litigate the matter and dismiss it for lack of jurisdiction.

He argued that an appeal was already ongoing on the earlier judgment and that hearing the matter would only mean “a breach of Section 287(3) of the Constitution and a serious professional misconduct against any counsel to represent”.

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Giwa also asked the court to charge the prosecuting counsel N100, 000 for re-litigating the matter, adding that the move was not only an abuse of the court but also intended to extort the defendant. (NAN)

Edited By Silas Nwoha

 

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