FirstNation Airline boss must face trial for alleged N1.7bn theft, Court rules

Justice Mojisola Dada of the Ikeja Special Offences Court has ordered that Kayode Odukoya, the managing director of First Nation Airline, must face trial over an alleged N1.7 billion theft charge proffered against him by the EFCC.

The airline’s operating licence has since been suspended by the aviation authorities.

Mrs Dada in a ruling on Friday dismissed a preliminary objection dated April 30, filed by Mr Odukoya’s defence team seeking to quash the charges.

“The totality of the preliminary objection fails and is hereby dismissed.

“The proper parties are before the court and the application is a time wasting device. I so hold,” Mrs Dada ruled.

Following the ruling, Zainab Ettu, the prosecuting counsel for the EFCC informed the court that nine prosecuting witnesses were to testify against the airline boss.

“We will be asking the court for trial dates,” Mrs Ettu said.

Mrs Dada fixed Nov. 7, Nov. 8 and Nov. 9 for Mr Odukoya’s trial.

On June 29, Mr Odukoya’s Defence Counsel, Olawale Akoni, had via a preliminary objection, prayed for an order of the court striking out the charge.

The application, supported by an 11-paragraph affidavit had sought an order quashing or striking out the charges filed by the EFCC, dated Dec. 11, 2017 for want of jurisdiction.

The defendants in the application said the EFCC charge contravened the provisions of Sections 249, 252 and 77 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL), No. 10 of 2011.

According to the defence: Section 249 of the ACJL stipulates that prosecutorial authority before the High Court of Lagos State shall be exercised only in the name of `the state of Lagos.’

“The information/charge No. ID/239C/2012 filed against the applicants does not comply with Section 249 of the ACJL as stated above.”

Opposing the application however, the EFCC in an 18-paragraph affidavit, dated June 19, argued that the EFCC did not require a fiat from the attorney-general of Lagos State to prosecute the matter.

The anti-graft agency urged the court to dismiss Mr Odukoya’s application on the ground that it lacked merit and was an abuse of process of court.

The EFCC is prosecuting Mr Odukoya alongside First Nation Airways and Bellview Airlines on a four-count charge bordering on forgery, use of false document, perjury and stealing.

Mr Odukoya allegedly committed the offences of forgery, use of false document and perjury on March 21, 2013.

The EFCC alleged that the defendant forged the memorandum of Loss of Lagos State certificate of occupancy registered as No. 33 at page 33, Volume 1011 at the Lagos State Land Registry in Alausa, in order for the document to be acted upon as genuine.

The forged document was in respect of a property located at No. 29, Oduduwa St., GRA, Ikeja, Lagos.

Mr Odukoya is alleged by the EFCC to have used the false document, and that he also gave false information on oath, concerning the loss of the certificate of occupancy at the Lagos State land registry.

The anti-graft agency also alleged that on Oct. 7, 2016, Odukoya stole and dishonestly converted to his own use N1.7 billion, belonging to Skye Bank.

The offences violate Sections 85, 86(1) 278(1) (b), 285, 361(1), (a) (b), 363 and 364(1) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011. (NAN)

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