Justice Hassan Dikko of a Federal High Court, Makurdi, Benue State, on November 22, 2018, convicted one Dickson Simon Obasi and discharged Frank Emmanuel Orngu on offences bordering on conspiracy and money laundering.
They were initially arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on March 25, 2015, in the same court before Justice Binta Nyako. Following her transfer to the Abuja Division, they were re-arraigned before Justice Dikko on February 16, 2017.
One of the counts against them reads: “That you Dickson Simon Obasi and Frank Emmanuel Orngu between the 8th and 9th of October 2014 at Otukpo within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, converted the sum of N798,000 (Seven Hundred and Ninety-Eight Thousand Naira) only, stolen from the account of one Fatima Justina Agada with First Bank of Nigeria PLC into MTN recharge cards with the aim of disguising the illicit origin of the money and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 15 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011”.
The court thereafter granted them bail. But Obasi absconded, leaving Orngu to attend the trial alone.
Delivering judgement today, the Court held that the trial of a suspect who absconds after taking his plea, can go on in line with Section 352 (4) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA 2015.
Justice Dikko, thereafter, ruled that the prosecution proved its case beyond every reasonable doubt in respect of Obasi, and so found him guilty on two of the counts.
The court further issued a bench warrant on Obasi, and ordered that sentencing “shall be delivered upon his arrest”.
However, the court discharged and acquitted Orngu on all counts preferred against him.
“The prosecution failed to connect him with the first defendant, Obasi, in the alleged crime, and the evidence of the prosecution witnesses against Orngu, cannot be sustained and thereby discountenanced,” Justice Dikko held.