By Taiye Agbaje
Abuja, Oct. 24, 2023
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Tuesday, opened its case at the Federal High Court (FHC), Abuja, against the British National, Mr James Nolan, who jumped bail in 2022.
The EFCC’s counsel, Mr Bala Sanga, led the 1st prosecution witness (PW1), Mr Temitope Erinomo, an Assistant Chief Complaint Officer with the anti-graft agency in evidence before Justice Obiora Egwuatu.
Erinomo, who works in the Special Control Unit against Money Laundering, told the court he was part of the investigating team in the criminal charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/9/22 filed against Micad Project City Services Ltd (1st defendant) and Nolan (2nd defendant).
Nolan, a director in the Process and Industrial Development Limited (P&ID), jumped bail and stopped attending court proceedings since 2022.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) observes that though Nolan was not in court, his lawyer, Mr Michael Ajara, was in court.
Ajara, however, told the court that he was indisposed, hence, he would not be able to cross examine the PW1.
He, therefore, sought for an adjournment.
Sanga did not oppose the application and the judge subsequently adjourned the matter until Jan. 16, Jan. 17 and Jan. 18 for cross examination and trial continuation.
NAN reports that Justice Egwuatu had, on July 6, ordered a surety, Mr George Kadiri, to forfeit his N100 million bail bond to the Federal Government over his inability to produce the fleeing Briton, Nolan, in court.
Egwuatu, in a ruling, also ordered Mr Kadiri, an Igala chief and a retired civil servant, who was absent in court, to be remanded in prison custody until the payment of the N100 million.
The order followed an oral application by Sanga over non-appearance of Kadiri in court.
The surety’s lawyer, Lisa Egwu, had tendered a medical certificate, claiming that Kadiri had a bathroom accident a week before the proceeding and was too ill to attend the court sitting.
Delivering his ruling, the judge held that the submission of the prosecution was not in doubt that Nolan had jumped bail and that he is currently in Ireland.
He held that since September 27, 2022, the surety and the defence team had been aware that the 2nd defendant (Nolan) had jumped bail.
The judge also agreed with the anti-graft agency that no significant effort had been made by the surety to ensure the attendance of the fleeing Briton in court nor had he shown to court what additional or fresh effort he intended to make in procuring his attendance in court.
Egwuatu further agreed with the prosecution that Kadiri, from the look of things did not know Nolan and that there was every likelihood that the suretyship was just a business transaction.
The judge, who held that it was the responsibility of the surety to produce the defendant in court, said this was even when a bail relationship is a transaction between the surety and the court.
The prosecuting counsel, Sanga, had earlier lamented the deliberate ploy by the defence counsel to delay the trial, saying the court had been magnanimous to the defence for several months.
NAN equally reports that Justice Ahmed Mohammed of a FHC, Abuja had, on Sept. 28, 2022, revoked the N100 million bail granted to Nolan for jumping bail.
In a ruling in another charge filed before the judge, Mohammed issued a bench warrant against Nolan and ordered that he should be arrested by security agencies, including the Interpol, anywhere he is sighted within or outside Nigeria and be produced in court to stand his trial.
The judge also directed the surety (Kadiri) to appear in court to show cause why his bail bond should not be forfeited.
Nolan was at the centre of the $9.6 billion dollars P&ID scam trial.
Nolan, also a director with Goidel Resources Limited, a Designated Non-Financial Institution, with another company, ICIL Limited, are standing trial on 16 counts bordering on money laundering before Justice Mohammed to the tune of $9.6 billion.
NAN reports on Monday that a Business and Property Court in London presided over by Justice Robin Knowles of the Commercial Courts of England and Wales quashed the $11 billion awarded against Nigeria in a case filed by the P&ID.
Judge Knowles held that the award was obtained by fraud and that what had happened in the case was contrary to public policy.
In the case marked: CL-2019-000752, the Federal Government had sought to overturn the $6.6 billion arbitration awarded in favour of P&ID in 2017.