A Federal High Court, Lagos, has adjourned till April 22, to hear a motion to set aside the interim attachment order obtained by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against Ms. Honora Olumide Johnson, a former confidential secretary to Dr. Mike Adenuga and five others.
A firm, Worldspan Holdings Limited, owned by Adenuga, had through its counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), petitioned EFCC, alleging conspiracy, forgery, stealing and obtaining money under false pretence against Johnson and others.
The petitioner alleged that the firm instructed its bankers, BNP Paribas, Paris on December 7, 2013 to close two of its accounts and its balances of $300,000 transferred to the current account of Conoil Producing Limited.
“But contrary to the instruction, the first defendant and the 5th defendant allegedly issued a later instruction to the bank that the said balance be wired to DSL Nominees Limited account in China for their personal benefits,” the petitioner alleged.
The petitioner also alleged that sometime between 2018 and 2020, the first defendant, together with others, stole “various currencies in naira and foreign currencies in the total equivalent of $350,000”.
On account of that and others, the EFCC sought and obtained an exparte order, attaching various properties of the 1st defendant, including her residential building, (all, but one of which she had bought between April, 2001 and February 2010) and froze her bank accounts on February 16, 2021.
Consequently, the 1st defendant filed a motion dated March 12, praying the court to discharge the interim attachment order.
She supported her motion with an affidavit denying all the allegations contained in the petition and averred that at no time in 2013 was she instructed by Dr. Adenuga or Worldspan to transfer the alleged $300,000/close any accounts nor did she participate in any transfer of the said sum to DSL nominees, China.
She maintained that she was never queried for any alleged diversion of $300,000 from 2013 till she left her employment in 2019 and further stated that she was never involved in alleged stealing of a phantom $350,000 from a safe between 2018 and 2020, moreso as she had since early 2019 left Adenuga’s company.
She claimed on oath that Dr. Adenuga designed the phantom allegations to intimidate and oppress her because she was bold enough to walk away from a 30-year love relationship with him, for her peace of mind.
She further swore to a 13 paragraph further affidavit that she instructed her counsel to file an application for stay of execution as well as for discharging the orders of the court, which was done and served on the prosecution.
According to her, the application was filed on March 12, 2021 and served on all the respondents on the same date.
“However, on March 17, 2021, I was suddenly asked by an EFCC officer via telephone call to come to the Commission’s office immediately. I informed the officer who called me that I had a pre-scheduled medical appointment for March 17, 2021 and that I would come to their office on the scheduled date, being March 18, 2021.
“The EFCC officer then told me that he and his fellow officers were coming to my house to pick me up and take possession of my house as there is a court order to that effect.
“The EFCC officers kept true to their threat as 30 minutes later they got to my house with Police officers, tried to eject me from my house, that they were taking possession of the house, despite the service of the application of the motion for stay on the EFFC, she swore.
But the EFCC filed a counter affidavit, necessitating the need for the defendants to respond to it.
At the last hearing on Thursday before Justice Mohammed Liman, whose court issued the exparte orders, Oluwemimo Ogunde (SAN) represented the defendants, while Rotomi Jacob (SAN) and I. A. Mohammed represented the EFCC.
Ogunde told the court that they had received counter affidavit and written address to his motion dated March 12, 2021 and would require time to respond.
According to him, the further affidavit he filed on behalf of his clients was to document for the court what the EFCC was doing in harassing his client. “We think it is important to bring this to our lordship’s notice,” he declared.
But Mohammed, who said he was not opposed to adjournment, argued that the counter affidavit was not necessary. “It is not a fundamental enforcement of rights action. The matter is for attachment, so that counter affidavit is not needed. But I am not objecting to adjournment,” he said.
Justice Liman, who did not bother about the arguments of both counsel in respect of the further affidavit adjourned with the cooperation of both counsel to April 22, 2021 to hear the motion to vacate the interim order.
Meanwhile, the 1st defendant had in her March 1, 2021 petition to the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, Tony Ojukwu denied all the allegations, claiming that she was being harangued for refusing to continue to be the mistress (lover) of Dr. Adenuga.
In the petition, her lawyers, M.J. Partnership; Solicitors, said: “Our client worked for over a period of 30 years approximately, as confidential secretary to Dr. Adenuga starting from her appointment at Devcom Merchant Bank Limited in 1990.
“However, irrespective of which of Dr. Adenuga’s companies our client’s salaries were paid from, our client at all times worked personally in the office of Dr. Adenuga all through the period she worked in his organization receiving various cash gifts in foreign and local currencies from Dr. Adenuga.
“She handled many sensitive matters for Dr. Adenuga and at no point during her work as confidential secretary was she accused of any financial crime or misdemeanor whatsoever. She rather performed her role as confidential secretary to the best of her abilities,” the lawyers stated and urged the Commission to protect the rights of the accused from the “frivolous criminal allegations.”
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