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March 2, 2024
You are currently viewing Court to rule on jurisdiction in alleged N950m fraud against ex-Punch staff

Court to rule on jurisdiction in alleged N950m fraud against ex-Punch staff

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By Adenike Ayodele

Justice Ismail Ijelu of the Ikeja High Court will on Feb. 16 rule on the court’s jurisdiction to entertain a case of N950 million fraud against a former staff of Punch newspaper, Olusegun Ogunbanjo.

Other defendants in the suit numbered ID/21559C/2023 are Olawunmi Ogunbanjo, Vaneloo International Ltd., Valeco Global Ventures, Bagco Garba, Taofeek Ogunbanjo, Ifeanyi Odogwu, Bound Media Ltd. and Godwin Benson.

Ijelu adjourned the case after Lagos State Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Dr Babajide Martins, and counsel to Ogunbanjo, Mr C.J. Jiakponna, adopted their written addresses.

Jiakponna supported his application challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the case with a 17- paragraph affidavit.

In the application dated Nov. 16, 2023, he urged the court to strike out the case.

According to him, the court lacked the jurisdiction to hear the case.

He argued that the case was ongoing at the Sabo-Yaba Chief Magistrates’ Court.

“Our application is a preliminary objection before this court saying that it lacks the jurisdiction to hear case.

“We urge the court to strike out the case,” he said.

However, in an 11-paragraph counter-affidavit dated Dec. 11, 2023, Martins prayed the court to dismiss the preliminary objection.

He said that the objection lacked merit.

According to him, a case filed before a high court supersedes the one before a magistrates court.

He said: “As soon as we realised the severity of the charge, the DPP, on the directive of the attorney-general, ordered that the case should be filed at the high court,

“If a case is ongoing at a magistrates’ court and the prosecution changes its mind and wants it heard at a high court, the law allows that.

“Once the high court matter has been filed, that supersedes the one before the magistrates’ court. There are authorities cited to that effect.

“I hereby urge the court to dismiss the preliminary objection as lacking merit,” Martins said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Ogunbanjo was arraigned before a Sabo-Yaba Chief Magistrates’ Court on March 10, 2023, for alleged N950 million fraud.

Magistrate Adeola Olatubosun had granted him bail in the sum of N10 million with two sureties in like sum, following his not guilty plea to the three-count charge of obtaining by false pretences, forgery and stealing.

Ogunbanjo is alleged to have obtained N450 million from one Mr Olusola lkuyajesin and N500 million from one Mr Durodola Balogun under false pretences of using the money to buy stationeries.

He also allegedly forged an organisation’s local purchase orders to carry out the acts, in contravention of Sections 287, 314 and 365 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015 (NAN)

Edited by Ijeoma Popoola

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