Tuesday, 1 July 2014

N82.8m fraud: Court orders arrest of Cross Country boss

A Lagos State High Court, Ikeja, on Tuesday ordered the arrest of the Managing Director of Cross-Country Limited, Mr. Bube Okorodu, for failure to appear in court to stand trial over an alleged N82.8m theft.
The trial judge, Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo issued a bench warrant on Okorodudu and charged the police to produce him before the court on July 8, 2014.
The popular transporter had been expected in court on Tuesday to take his plea on an eight-count of conspiracy, stealing, forgery and uttering.
The charges were preffered against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The EFCC alleged that he stole N82.8m through fraudulent sale of 17 units of Volkswagen transporter buses belonging to one AG Moeller Ltd and Mr. Adeloye Olukemi.
He was charged along with his two companies, Cross Country Limited and Car Link Limited.
On May 26, 2014, Lawal-Akapo had dismissed an application filed by Okorodudu seeking to quash the charge.
Okorodudu through his counsel, Chief Robert Clarke (SAN), had challenged the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the case.
However, Lawal-Akapo had ruled to uphold jurisdiction and had ordered Okorodudu to appear in court on July 1 for his arraignment.

At the resumed proceeding on Tuesday, the EFCC counsel, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, reminded the court of its order noting that the absence of the first defendant was a flagrant disobedience of the court’s order.
Oyedepo said, “My Lord, the reason adduced for the absence of the first defendant (Okorodudu) is not cogent.
“We are therefore asking the court to issue a bench warrant against him so that he can be produced before the court to take his plea.”
Okorodudu’s counsel, Chief Robert Clarke (SAN), however, explained that his absence was as a result of an appeal filed against the court’s ruling on May 26.
Clarke said the Notice of Appeal was already before the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division and that the record of proceedings had already been transferred to the appellate court.
He said it was the view of the defence that Okorodu’s presence could be dispensed with for hearing of the application.
Counsel for Car Link and Cross Country Ltd., Chief Ladi Williams (SAN), also alligned with the submissions of Clarke.
However, the judge who had earlier refused Clarke’s prayer to adjourn the matter indefinitely, held that no cogent reason was given for Okorodudu’s absence.
Lawal-Akapo noted that the evidence before the court showed that Okorodudu was at the registry of the Ikeja high court on Tuesday morning.
He said, “The first defendant appeared before the commissioner of oaths this morning to depose to two affidavits in support of his applications but did not deem it fit to appear before this court.
“It is abundantly clear that he is taking the court for a ride. The Law is not a respecter of any person.”
The judge added that the practice directive issued by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloma Mukhtar, had made it mandatory for courts to give accelerated hearing to criminal matters.
Lawal-Akapo said: “This matter is adjourned till July 8 and a bench warrant is hereby issued against the defendant.
“The defendant is to be arrested and produced before the court to take his plea.”

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