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Court set date for Ifeanyi Ubah’s arraignment

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The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos yesterday fixed 18th October for the arraignment of Senator Ifeanyi Ubah and his firm, Capital Oil and Gas, for allegedly making false claims to the Assets Management Corporation (AMCON).

Justice Nicholas Oweibo fixed the date following the Federal Government’s complaint that Ubah had repeatedly been absent to take his plea on the charge.

The judge directed that summons be issued to Ubah and his firm through his counsel for the lawmaker’s appearance in court on the adjourned date.

Justice Oweibo declined an application to issue a warrant for Ubah’s arrest, as requested by prosecution counsel, Mr. Tunde Lawal of the law firm of Kunle Adegoke (SAN) & Co.

But the judge warned that the senator risked an arrest warrant should he fail to appear on the next date of adjournment.

The Federal Government initiated criminal proceedings against Ubah in 2019 in an eight-count charge over his indebtedness to AMCON.

The counts included conspiracy in making false claims in relation to the actual value of certain assets transferred to AMCON under a consent judgment obtained in 2012.

In previous proceedings, the Federal Government told the court that it had been unable to serve the defendants their 30 October 2019 charges, alleging that Ubah had been evasive.

When the matter came up yesterday, Lawal informed the court that the defendants had been served with the amended charge and hearing notice.

He reminded the judge that on the last adjourned date, Ubah was absent, even after receiving the hearing notice.

On that basis, Lawal sought the issuance of a bench warrant against the lawmaker.

But the defence counsel, Mrs. Ifeoma Esom, opposed the prayer.

She informed the court that the matter was for a report of settlement/plea, saying her team had just been informed that the settlement had failed and that it was on the basis of settlement that Ubah was absent.

Countering her, the prosecutor averred that a settlement could not be reported on the matter, as it was a criminal case.

He said parties could choose to settle outside the court but could not make that part of the business of a criminal court.

Lawal added that the best that could happen was a plea bargain while also noting that a settlement outside a court did not give the first defendant Ubah, the authority to be absent from court.

In its ruling, the court declined to issue a bench warrant but ordered that the summons be served on Ubah through his counsel.

The court also stated that if on the next adjourned date, Ubah does not appear in court, a warrant would be issued for his arrest.

It adjourned proceedings till October 18 for arraignment.

One of the counts in the charge reads: “That you, Ifeanyi Patrick Ubah, and Capital Oil and Gas Industries Limited, sometime between 2012 and 2018, conspired in making false claims in relation to the actual values of certain assets transferred to AMCON under the consent judgment delivered in suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/714/2012 on 1st July 2013 in partial payment of the Indebtedness of Capital Oil and Gas Industries with a view to defeating the realisation of the said judgment debt of Capital Oil and Gas Industries Limited to AMCON, then standing in the sum of N135 billion”.

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