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Ladipo market president gets bail

Published by Guardian on Tue, 07 May 2013


JUSTICE Olabisi Akinlade of Ikeja High Court, Lagos Monday admitted the president of Aguiyi Ironsi International Market Traders Union, Mushin aka Ladipo Market, Jonathan Okoli, to bail in the sum of N5 million with two sureties in the like sum.The sureties, the judge said, should swear to an affidavit of means and show evidence of tax payment to the Lagos State Government and fixed trial for July 2.Okoli was arraigned before the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on allegation of stealing over N52 million belonging to the association.The embattled president was arraigned on a three-count charge of obtaining money by false pretences and stealing.According to the charge file by the EFCC counsel, Mr. Anslem Ozioko, Okoli was alleged to have between 2009 and 2010, collected a total sum of N52.08 million from members of Aguiyi Ironsi International Market Traders Union.Ozioko said members of the association entrusted the money to Okoli for the payment of Trade Permits and Auto Dealers fees.The prosecutor alleged that Okoli diverted the money to his personal use and failed to remit the payments to the Lagos State Government and Mushin Local Council Area.Okoli's alleged offences, according to the prosecution contravened Sections 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act of 2006 and 390(8) (b) and (9) of the Criminal Code Laws of Lagos State of Nigeria 2003.The defendant, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge, when the court registrar read it to him.But Okoli's counsel, Clement Onwuenwunor has petitioned the Chief Judge of the state High Court, Justice Ayotunde Phillips over what he called the transfer of the matter from Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo to the present judge without the defendant's knowledge.In the protest letter dated February 4, 2013 and made available to The Guardian, Onwuenwunor had expressed disappointment over the manner and procedure adopted in moving the matter from the regularly assigned judge without carrying them along, describing the transfer of the matter as very strange.He argued that since Justice Onigbanjo has already assumed jurisdiction since November 4, 2012, the matter couldn't be moved to another judge of the same jurisdiction without an order of transfer from the chief judge.
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