EFCC seeks arrest of former NDDC Boss over alleged N3.6bn fraud
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has intensified efforts to bring Tuoyo Omatsuli, the former Executive Director on Projects at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), to justice over his alleged involvement in a N3.6 billion fraud case.
This was disclosed in a statement by the EFCC on Thursday via a post on X . The EFCC urged Justice Daniel Osiagor of the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, to issue a warrant for Omatsuli’s arrest, citing the need for him to attend trial.
The case, initially filed against Omatsuli, Francis Momoh, Don Parker Properties Limited, and Building Associates Limited, alleges a conspiracy to launder N3.6 billion between August 2014 and September 2015 in Lagos. The charges claim an attempt to conceal the illegal origin of funds as proceeds from corruption and gratification.
One of the counts reads: “That you, Engr Tuoyo Omatsuli, Don Parker Properties Limited, Francis Momoh and Building Associates Limited, between August 2014 and September 2015 at Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, conspired to disguise the illegal origin of N3,645,000,000 (Three Billion Six Hundred and Forty-Five Million Naira), being proceeds of unlawful activity to wit: corruption and gratification; and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18 of the Money Laundering Act 2011 as amended by Act No 1 of 2012 and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.”
Another count reads: “That you, Engr Tuoyo Omatsuli, between August 2014 and September 2015 at Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, did procure Francis Momoh and Building Associates Limited to use the total sum of N3,645,000,000 (Three Billion Six Hundred and Forty-Five Million Naira) paid by Starline Consultancy Services into the Diamond Bank Plc Account No. 0023785116 operated by Building Associate Ltd, when you reasonably ought to have known that the said sum formed part of the proceeds of your unlawful activity to wit:
Corruption and Gratification; and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18 of the Money Laundering Act 2011 as amended by Act No 1 of 2012 and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.”
They pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against them.
What we know
After entering initial not guilty pleas, the defendants later filed a no-case submission, leading to the discharge of Omatsuli by retired Justice Saliu Saidu in November 2020. However, the Court of Appeal overturned this decision in April 2022, ordering Omatsuli to enter into his defense accordingly.
In the recent court hearing, Omatsuli was absent, claiming an appeal pending before the Supreme Court. His counsel, Norrison Quakers, informed the court that the former NDDC boss was unaware of the proceedings as he was not represented during the last session.
Responding to this, EFCC’s prosecution counsel, Ekele Iheanacho, argued that the appeal did not prevent proceedings at the Federal High Court, and he applied for a bench warrant against Omatsuli. Justice Osiagor disagreed, stating that the defendant should be put on notice.
What you should know
The case, adjourned to March 22, 2024, will involve re-arraignment and further trial proceedings. The EFCC remains committed to pursuing justice and holding individuals accountable for financial misconduct, especially in public office.
The allegations against Omatsuli and others involve a complex web of financial transactions, emphasizing the broader efforts to combat corruption within government agencies. The legal developments underscore the challenges and complexities involved in prosecuting financial crimes, with legal proceedings extending from the initial trial to the appellate stage.