The Rivers State High court in Port Harcourt has ordered the arrest of two Italian citizens – Giandomenico Zingali and Davide Anelli – over their refusal to attend court proceedings to answer charges of alleged $119 million power plant fraud.
Okogbule Gbasam, the trial judge, ordered the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Commissioner of Police and other security operatives to arrest the fleeing Italian nationals wherever they are.
The judge based his ruling on section 120 of Rivers State Administration of Criminal Justice ACJA to order the arrest, and directed the IGP, and the police commissioner in the state, and other security agents to produce the Italians in court to face trial in respect of the 16-count criminal charge filed against them by the Rivers State government.
A certified true copy of the order of arrest was obtained on Friday by this reporter from Godwin Obla, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) who stood for Rivers State in the matter and moved the motion for the issuance of the bench warrant.
Messrs Zingali and Anelli are part of the seven defendants billed for arraignment before the court over their alleged complicity in the 119 million dollars power plant scam.
The defendants are: Saipem SPA, an Italian Company, Saipem Contracting Nigeria Ltd, Walter Peviani, Kelechi Sinteh Chinakwe, Giandomenico Zingali, Vitto Testaguzza and Davide Anelli who are 1st to 7th defendants respectively.
Saipem SPA, Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited, its Managing Director, Walter Peviani and four others are accused of conspiracy, fraud, obtaining credit of N7 billion naira by false pretences and cheating.
Details of the charges are: conspiracy contrary to Section 518 (6) and (7) and punishable under Section 518; obtaining credit of $130 million USD by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b)
The offences are also said to be contrary to sections 518 (6) and (7), 419 (A) (1) (b), section 421 of the Criminal Code Law of Rivers State, Cap 37 Vol. 2 Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria 1999.
Saipem and its top management staff are to be prosecuted based on fiat issued to Godwin Obla, SAN, George Adeyemi, and John Eche Okpe, both of OBLA & Co, Abuja by Rivers State government.
Their arraignment on the 16 count-charge marked PHC/3106/CR/2021 has been put off several times by Mr Gbasam due to failure of some of the defendants to be in court.
The enrolled copy of the order reads in part: “Upon this matter coming up for plea today before His lordship, Hon. Justice Dr. O. Gbasam, sitting at High Court Port Harcourt; and after hearing the oral application for the activation of the application for the issuance of a bench warrant on the 5th and 7th defendants made by Chief Godwin Obla, SAN, with D.G. Adeyerni, Esq., appearing for the State, on the last adjourned date 14/12/2021 which this court kept In abeyance till today.
“And after hearing the oral response of the opposing counsel, H. Odeiln Ajumogobia, SAN, with Patrick Osu, Esq., Akinola Akinyoju, Esq., and Shekina Wokoma of counsel for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 6th defendants, and. A, Akinwole, Esq., with O. Nwogu, Esq., and R.C. Kanu, Esq., for the 4th defendant.
It is hereby ordered that as follows:
“That an order of bench warrant be and is hereby issued by virtue of Section120 of the Rivers State Administration of Criminal Justice Law, 2015 directing the Inspector General of Police, the Commissioner of Police and other security agencies to arrest the 5th and 7th defendants – Giandomenico Zingali and Davide Anelli wherever they are and can be found and produce them before this honourable court to face their trial as per the 16-count charge contained in the amended information dated 19/11/2021.
“The charges are summarised as follows:
Conspiracy contrary to Section 518(6) & (7) and punishable under Section 518 of the Criminal Code, Cap 37, Vol. 2, Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria, 1999;
“Obtaining credit by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419(A) and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1)(8) of the Criminal Code, Cap 37, Vol. 2, Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria, 1999;
“Attempt to cheat contrary to Section 508 and punishable under Section 509 of the Criminal Code, Cap 37, Vol. 2,.Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria, 1999;
“Conspiracy to receive credit by false pretence contrary to S. 518(6) and punishable under S. 518 of the Criminal Code, Cap 37, Vol. 2, Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria, 1999;
“Cheating contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421 of the Criminal Code, Cap 37, Vol. 2, Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria, 1999;
“False statements by officials Company contrary to Section 436(B) and punishable under Section 436(B) of the Criminal Code, Cap 37, Vol 2, Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria, 1999;
“It is further ordered that the Inspector General of Police, the Commissioner of Police and other security agencies are hereby vested with the legal authority to enter any premises where the 5th and 7th defendants – GiandomeniCo Zingali and Davide Anelli – are and can be found for the purpose of executing this bench warrant.”
The case has been adjourned until February 2, 3, and 4.
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