The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Monday, gave the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), the nod to dock Mr. Emeka Mba, immediate past director-general of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), on an amended 15-count criminal charge bordering on alleged N2.9billion fraud.
Mba is facing trial alongside Mr. Patrick Areh, director of Finance and Accounts; Mr. Basil Udotai; and Babatunji Amure for alleged money laundering and diversion of public funds.
Trial Justice Gabriel Kolawole slated December 13 to take plea of the defendants who are currently on administrative bail.
Justice Kolawole also ordered Mba to report at the Abuja office of the EFCC, following complaints by Mr. Salisu Majidadi, the commission’s counsel, over difficulties in effecting service of amended charge sheet on Mba and co-defendants.
Majidadi informed the court of the difficulty in serving the defendants with the amended charge, and consequently requested for five days within which the defendants would be served.
However, the defendants’ lawyers, led by Mr. Sunday Ameh, said the issue of service or non-service of the amended charge should not be an issue for the court’s consideration because, each of the defendants, for instance, the first and fourth defendant had been served, while the second and third defendants had obtained copies of the amended charge from the third defendant’s counsel.
Delivering a bench ruling on the application for an adjournment by the prosecuting counsel, Justice Kolawole ordered the accused persons to report at the EFCC’s office tomorrow (Wednesday, November 30, 2016) at 10am “and shall be served each with the amended charge…
“This case is hereby adjourned to December 13, 2016 at 10am, for the arraignment of the defendants on a 15-count of the amended charge dated October 14, 2016 and filed on October 21, 2016.”
The amended charge reads in part: “That you Emeka Mba (while being the Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission), Patrick Are (while being the Director of Finance and Account of the National Broadcasting Commission), Basil Udotai (trading in the name and style of Technology Advisors) and Babatunji Amure (trading in the name and style of Divine Partners) on or about the 15th day of August, 2015, in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this honourable Court conspired amongst yourselves to commit an illegal act to wit: laundering the sum of N2, 899, 723, 500 and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 15 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 and punishable under section 15 (3) of the same Act,” among others.
The EFCC recently arrested Mba over an alleged N15 billion fraud in the NBC.