By Alaba Ajibade
The case involving a former governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Timipre Sylva, came up for mentioning Thursday at the Federal High Court in Abuja.
Sylva, who is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on a fresh 50 count charge bordering on stealing and money laundering has been dragged before Justice A. F. Ademola. of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
A statement by EFCC noted that “Sylva is charged alongside Francis Okokuro, Gbenga Balogun, and Samuel Ogbuku.”
“They allegedly used three companies – Marlin Maritime Limited, Eat Catering Services Limited, and Haloween-Blue Construction and Logistics Limited to move over N19.2 billion from Bayelsa State coffers between 2009 and 2012,” the statement added.
Justice A. R. Mohammed of the Federal High Court had on June 10, 2015 dismissed the 42- count charge of stealing earlier brought against Sylva and his co-accused by the EFCC, with the excuse that the prosecution’s application to consolidate the charges before him, against the defendants, amounted to an abuse of court process.
The Commission however, faulted the ruling on the grounds that it was premature as the accused persons had not even taken any plea before the court, and subsequently filed the fresh 50 count charge at the Federal High Court. At the resumed hearing before Justice Ademola, Sylva, Okokuro and Ogbuku were present in court.
The accused persons were to take their pleas, but this could not happen, as there was a pending application before the court. Ajayi Olowo, counsel to Balogun had filed a preliminary objection, challenging the jurisdiction of the court, to hear the case.
Counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, also told the court that investigators who visited Port Harcourt, Rivers State, discovered that the addresses of Eat Catering Services Limited, and Haloween-Blue Construction and Logistics Limited were non-existent.
Justice Ademola thereafter, adjourned till July 9, 2015 for continuation of hearing and ruling on the application brought before it.