The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the judge, Oluwatoyin Taiwo, in her ruling, held that the prosecution had established a sufficient prima facie case against the defendant.
“After carefully considering the submissions of the prosecution and the defence, the court at this stage is not to review the evidence of the prosecution but to see whether the prosecution has put enough evidence before the court to warrant the defendant to defend his case.
“The prosecution called seven witnesses and tendered several documents. The evidence of the prosecution shows that the prosecution has sufficiently proven a prima facie case against the defendant.
“I hereby dismiss the application of the defence and order that the defendant to open his defence,” Taiwo ruled.
NAN reports that at the last proceedings, the defence counsel, Edoka Onyeke, had argued that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against the defendant.
He had, therefore, asked the court to dismiss the charge against his client.
However, Samuel Daaji, counsel to the Economic and Financial Commission (EFCC), had asked the court to determine whether the evidence adduced by the prosecution sufficiently linked the defendant to the offences to warrant him to be called upon to open his defence.
NAN reports that the prosecution had closed its case in October 2021 after calling the seventh witness.
The EFCC had charged the defendant, an oil marketer and an assistant pastor of RCCG, City of David Parish, Victoria Island, Lagos, alongside his oil firm, Peak Petroleum Industry Nigeria Ltd, before the court.
The defendant and his company were first arraigned before the court on January 21, 2019, on a six-count amended charge bordering on obtaining money by false pretence, stealing and issuance of dud cheques.
The defendant had pleaded not guilty to the charge and was admitted to bail.
The EFCC, in a charge, marked ID/8509c/19, alleged that the defendant and his company, had in 2014, approached the management of GOSL Nigeria Limited for a loan of $1.6 million to enable him to carry out operational activities in his company’s oil field in Bayelsa State.
The prosecution alleged that the defendant had assured the complainant that he would repay the money within 60 days.
Following the defendant’s failure to repay the loan as promised, he allegedly issued two post-dated Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria Limited cheques dated June 26, 2014, for the sum of $1.6 million.
The EFCC stated that upon presentation of the cheques to the bank for withdrawal by the complainant on several occasions, they were returned because of insufficient funds.
According to the prosecution, the alleged offences contravened Section 1(1) (b) of the Dishonoured Cheques (Offences) Act, Cap, D 11 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
Mrs Taiwo adjourned the case until June 10 for the defendant to open defence.