The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has said it would await the proof of death of Opeyemi Ajuyah, a fuel subsidy fraud suspect, before deciding on its next step.
Mrs. Ajuyah was facing an eight count amended charge alongside Abdullahi Arisekola-Alao, son of late prominent business man, Abdullazeez Arisekola-Alao, and Olanrewaju Olalusi before a Lagos High Court, Ikeja, over allegations of N1.1 billion fuel subsidy fraud.
They were charged alongside their companies, Majope Investment Limited and Axenergy Limited by the EFCC.
Seidu Atteh, counsel to the EFCC, said the defence team would have to furnish the court with relevant papers and affidavits on the incident.
“It’s unfortunate, but they still have to provide proof of death, like the death certificate, for the case to proceed,” Mr. Atteh told PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday.
“The likely move would be to remove her name and that of her company (Majope Investment) from the charge.”
Olanrewaju Ajanaku, the deceased’s counsel, told PREMIUM TIMES his client had been ill.
“We were together on Friday and Sunday, up till Monday morning to discuss the case; two witnesses were supposed to be in court today,” Mr. Ajanaku said on Wednesday.
“She had been down for about a year now. She was delivered of a baby in 2015, about two months later, the illness started.”
News of Mrs. Ajuyah’s demise became public on Wednesday morning, the next adjourned date for the continuation of their trial.
It also came on the same day the judge, Lateefat Okunnu, was to announce the sentencing for three fuel subsidy fraudsters convicted last Friday.
Mrs. Okunnu had convicted Walter Wagbatsoma, Adaoha Ugo-Nnadi, and their company, Ontario Oil and Gas, on an eight count charge of forgery and conspiracy in the fuel subsidy scheme.
Mrs. Ugo-Nnadi, the managing director of the company, had fainted in the dock just before the judge began reading the sentence for the crimes, forcing proceedings to be adjourned..
She’s currently in intensive care at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, according to her lawyer.
Mrs. Ajuyah and her co-defendants were first arraigned in 2012 for conspiring on February 14, 2011, to obtain N1.1 billion from the Nigerian government by claiming the sum as subsidy for the importation of 15 million metric tons of premium motor spirit.
In May 2015, the EFCC amended their earlier six- count charge to an eight-count of forgery and conspiracy, and re-arraigned the defendants.
The Commission accused the defendants of forging a bill of laden, cargo manifest, and other documents to perpetrate the N1.1 billion fraud between January 2011 and April 2012.
According to Mr. Atteh, the offences contravened Sections 1(3) of the Advanced Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act of 2006. They also violated Sections 363(a) and 364 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State.
The defendants had pleaded not guilty to the charges.