The Court of Appeal in Lagos has set aside the conviction of four companies to Dr Waripamo Owei Dudafa, an aide to former president Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, and wife, Dame Patience Jonathan.
According to a statement by Mike Ozekhome SAN, the companies’ lawyer, the judgment was delivered during a virtual court session via Zoom with attendance restricted to only parties and their counsel.
The firms, linked to Dudafa by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), are: Transocean Property & Investment Company Ltd, Seagate Property Development & Investment Ltd, Pluto Property & Investment Company Ltd and Avalon Global Property Development Company Ltd.
The EFCC had alleged the companies were holding funds allegedly belonging to Dame Patience Jonathan.
It arraigned before the Federal High Court in Lagos, Dudafa; Amajuoyi Briggs, a lawyer who was the secretary to all the companies; Demola Bolodeoku, a bank official and the companies on a 15-count charge.
Justice Babs Kuewumi, following the trial, convicted the firms on November 2, 2016.
Dissatisfied with the judgement, however, through their lawyers, led by Ozekhome and Ige Asemudara, they challenged the decision of the court.
Delivering judgment on Friday, the appellate court overturned the lower court’s decision.
According to the statement, It held that the convictions of the four companies were a nullity having being done in gross disregard of statutory and constitutional provisions.
It noted that the validity of the companies’ plea of guilt which was challenged by the Appellant was still yet to be determined before the convictions were made.
The court held that the firms’ convictions breached the fair hearing provisions of the constitution.
The lead judgement was read by Hon. Justice C. N. Uwa, while Justices Tunde Awotoye and Abundaga agreed with the lead judgment.
The counsel present at the Zoom meeting were Asemudara for the Appellant (all the companies) with him were Ejieke Onuoha and Azubuike Solomon Akpe, while Rotimi Oyedepo with A. O. Mohammed appeared for the EFCC.