Former Head of Service of the Federation, Steve Oronsaye and five others standing trial at a Federal High Court in Abuja have come under fresh charges bringing the total to 35-count in the suit of N1.2 billion fraud case against them.
Other defendants in the amended charge dated November 2,2015 are Osarenkhoe Afe, Global Services Limited, Cluster Logistics Limited, Kangolo
Dynamic Cleaning Limited, and Drew Investment and Construction Company Limited.
The federal government through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had earlier filed a 24-count charge against Oronsaye and two other defendants over alleged fraud and money laundering offences involving N1.2bn.
But at Tuesday’s resumption of hearing Adebisi Adeniyi, the prosecution counsel told the Justice Justice Gabriel Kolawole, court that he had filed an amended charge and sought for an adjournment to enable him serve the new charge on three new co-defendants who have been included in the fresh charge.
With the filing of the amended charge, the initial 24-counts charge have been increased to 35-counts while the number of defendants also increased from three to six.
Kola Okeaya-Inneh, counsel to Oronsaye opposed the process and argued that the prosecution “cannot file an amended charge without a prior formal application to so.
Ruling on the application, Justice Kolawole said the prosecution could bring an amended charge at the stage of the proceedings without the need to file any formal application for leave of court to do so.
He however, criticized the prosecution’s sudden realization that it needed to file an amended charge when it was less than 24 hours to the date that had been fixed for the commencement of trial.
Consequently, Justice Kolawole adjourned the matter till November 25 2015, to enable the prosecution serve the fresh charges on the new co-defendants for them to take their pleas.
It would be recalled that the Oronsaye and the initial two accused persons all pleaded not guilty to the 24 counts preferred against them when they appeared before Justice Kolawole in July,2015.
The accused persons were alleged to have collaborated in defrauding the Federal Government to the tune of N118,992,201.6 under the guise of
paying the money in tranches for the contract of biometric data capture project between March 2010 and December 2011.
The fraud was allegedly perpetrated through the award and payment for fake contracts to nine companies including, Innovative Solutions, Fredrick Hamilton Global Services, Xangee Technologies Limited, Fatideck Ventures, Obalando Nigeria Enterprises, Moshfad Enterprises and Fesbee Global Resources Limited.
Other companies through which the accused persons allegedly siphoned the money from the Federal Government included Jolance Integrated Concept Limited and M.OF Investment Limited.