N587.7m fraud: ECOWAS staff negotiates plea bargain, to forfeit N245m asset

N587.7m fraud: ECOWAS staff negotiates plea bargain, to forfeit N245m asset

An executive assistant to Financial Controller of the Economic Community of West African States, (ECOWAS) Commission in Abuja, Mohammed Dangana has offered to enter a plea bargain over his alleged involvement in N587.7 million fraud. Dangana is standing trial before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on a 15-count charge bordering on criminal diversion of funds, misappropriation and money laundering.

He was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on October 18, 2019, over allegation of conspiring with two others, said to be at large to divert funds belonging to his employer, with which he among others, acquired the property in Abuja, including a plot of land he allegedly bought in Guzape (Abuja) at N200million and an apartment in Garki at N42million.

The prosecution was to call its fifth witness on Monday, but defence lawyer, Chief Chukwuma Onyezubelu, told the court that his client was interested in entering a plea bargain arrangement with the prosecution. Onyezubelu ,said parties were already talking. He prayed the court for an adjournment to enable parties conclude talks on the issue.

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Prosecution lawyer, Wahab Shittu, confirmed the development. He said he was not opposed to the defence’s move to plea bargain.
Shittu said:

“The offer of the defendant takes care of what the state would like to achieve at the end of proceedings and in the event of a conviction, namely, an offer to change the plea of the defendant.”


He said the defendant has also offered to forfeit to the state, the property, which formed the subject of the case. He said the property is worth N245million.
Shittu added that Dangana has equally agreed to plead guilty to an amended charge and to be given either a custodial sentence or fine, depending on what the court decides


“It is in respect of that third option, which is the sentencing, whether it should be custodial or fine that we are still trying to agree on, although the final decision is for the court to make,”

Shittu said.


Ruling, Justice Abang noted that although the case was scheduled for the continuation of trial, the defence lawyer sought an adjournment on the grounds that the defendant intends to change his plea. Justice Abang said even though the prosecution has called four witnesses, Section 270(2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) allows plea bargain provided the trial has not reached the point where the defendant is being called upon to enter defence. He adjourned till April 8 for parties to file their plea bargain.

Philomina Ngozi Oji

Philomena  Ngozi Christopher-Oji was born to the family of the late Michael and Cecilia Ojeogwu of Ubulu-Uku, in Aniocha South Local Government Area, Delta State. She had her primary and secondary education in Nwanoli and Ezemu Girls College, in Ubulu-Uku, before she proceeded to the Delta State University, Abraka, where she studied English and Literary Studies.

 

About the Author
Philomena  Ngozi Christopher-Oji was born to the family of the late Michael and Cecilia Ojeogwu of Ubulu-Uku, in Aniocha South Local Government Area, Delta State. She had her primary and secondary education in Nwanoli and Ezemu Girls College, in Ubulu-Uku, before she proceeded to the Delta State University, Abraka, where she studied English and Literary Studies.  

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