Fraud: Court Convicts Company Of Beninois Who Died In Ikoyi Prison
•Orders Restitute Of €17.616m To NPA
Justice Mojisola Dada of a Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos has convicted and sentenced Transport and Port Management System Limited, TPMS, a company owned by the late Beninois business mogul, Jean Codo, over €29m fraud.
The Lagos Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC on Tuesday, February 28, 2023 secured the conviction after four years of trial.
Codo and his company were both arraigned on Friday, December 13, 2019 on an eight-count charge bordering on stealing to the tune of €29 million (Twenty-Nine Million Euros) and accused of defrauding the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA of the Federal Government of Nigeria of the said sum.
DAILY INDEPENDENT reports that Jean Codo, the Benin Republic businessman died at the Ikoyi Correctional Centre in Lagos State during the cause of trial.
One of the counts reads: “That you, Jean Codo, and TPMS – Transport and Port Management Systems Ltd between February and December 2011 in Lagos dishonestly converted the total sum of €5,064,360 property of the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
Another count reads: “That you, Jeab Codo and TPMS – Transport and Port Management Systems Ltd between February and November 2011 in Lagos dishonestly converted the sum of €6,063,000 property of the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
They pleaded “not guilty” to the charges.
In the course of the trial, the prosecution called five witnesses through whom several documentary evidence from within and outside of Nigeria were tendered to prove its case.
However in the course of the trial, when the prosecution called its 5th witness, Codo, who was granted bail by the court, but could not meet the bail conditions, died at the Ikoyi prison on Thursday, May 21, 2020.
When the notification of the death of the first defendant was brought to the attention of the court, his name was struck out from the charges.
Subsequently, the prosecution continued with the prosecution of the company.
When the prosecution closed its case, rather than open its defence, the counsel for the defendant, Lawal Pedro, SAN, chose to file a no-case submission.
The no-case submission was however, dismissed by the court as lacking in merit and the defendant ordered to open its case.
In its defence, only one witness was called, after which both parties filed their written addresses.
In his final written address, Pedro urged the court to hold that the transaction which formed the crux of the charges, was “purely a commercial transaction”, and so should discharge and acquit the defendant.
In the prosecution’s final address, the prosecuting counsel, A.O. Mohammed, urged the court to hold that the prosecution proved all the ingredients of stealing against the defendant and so should convict the company as charged by the prosecution.
Delivering judgement, Justice Dada held that the prosecution effectively proved the charges and so convicted the defendant as charged.
The trial judge further ordered the company to pay the sum of N100 million within seven days of the judgement “during which it shall be wound up and all its assets forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria”.
The company was also ordered by the court to restitute the sum of €17,614,808.80 to the NPA.