An Ikeja Special Offences Court on Tuesday imposed an N100 million fine on Transport and Port Management System Ltd. (TPMS) for stealing 29 million Euros from the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had arraigned the owner of the company, a Beninois, the late Jean Codo, on Dec.13, 2019, alongside the company on an eight-count charge bordering on stealing.
Codo had pleaded not guilty.
Justice Mojisola Dada struck out the late Codo’s name from the charge after his death. Dada held that the prosecution effectively proved the charges. She consequently convicted the company. The judge ordered the company to pay the N100 million within seven days of the judgment or be wound up and all its assets forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The court also ordered the company to restitute the sum of €17.6 million Euros to the NPA. The EFCC presented five witnesses during the trial in which several pieces of documentary evidence from within and outside of Nigeria were tendered.
News agency reports that after the prosecution called its fifth witness, Codo, who was granted bail by the court but could not meet the bail conditions, died in the Ikoyi custodial facility on May 21, 2020.
Defence counsel, Mr Lawal Pedro (SAN), filed a no-case submission after the prosecution closed its case but the court dismissed it for lack of merit and ordered the defence to open its case.
One witness testified for the defence in the trial.
In his final written address, Pedro urged the court to hold that the transaction, which formed the crux of the charges, was purely commercial. He, thus, prayed the court to discharge and acquit the defendant.
EFCC counsel, Mr Abbas Mohammed, in his final written address, however, urged the court to hold that the prosecution proved all the ingredients of stealing against the company.
He prayed the court to convict the company as charged. According to the prosecution, the defendant had between February 2011 and November 2011, in Lagos, dishonestly converted to its personal use, the sum of N100 million, property of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The commission submitted that the theft violated Section 285(1) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.