Wednesday, 24 May 2017

EFCC Arraigns George Turnah, Seven Companies for N810m Scam

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Tuesday arraigned a former Special Adviser to Dan Abia, erstwhile managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, George.


Turnah Alarbh and seven companies: El Godmas Global Servises Limited; Turnoil and Gas Nigeria Limited; Kolo Creek Petroleum Development Limited ; Celtic Pride Consult and Events; Yenagoa Mall, Adaka Boro Marine Services Limited and Sugarland Intergrated farms Nigeria Limited before Justice Ibrahim Watila of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on a 12- count charge bordering on obtaining money by false pretence, money laundering and abuse of office.

As a prelude to the reading of the charges to the defendants, prosecution counsel, A. Olatunji notified the court that defendants 2,3 and 9 were not in court and applied that the court strike out their names from the charges, for the arraignment proceedings to succeed.

In response, defense counsel, Prof. Amuda Kanike (SAN) did not oppose the application. Justice Watila consequently granted the prayer and ordered that defendants 2, 3 & 9 be struck out of the charges.

Count 1 read: "that you George Turnah Alabh, El-Godmas Global Services Ltd, Celtic Pride Consult and Events, Geohan Telecommunications Nigeria Ltd did conspire among yourselves to comit felony to wit: money laundering, contrary to section 18(a) of the money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 and purnishable under section 15(3) of the same Act.

Count 11 read: "that you George Turnah Alabh, Kolo Creek Development Ltd, Adaka Boro Marine Services Nigeria Ltd, Sugarland Integrated Farms Nig. Ltd, and others at large on or about the 26th day of January, 2015, at Port Harcourt, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did convert the sum of Eight Hundred and Ten Million naira (N810,000,000.00) which said sum was stolen from the funds made available to the Niger Delta Youth Initiative by the Niger Delta Development Commission for hosting Niger Delta Youths and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 15(2)(b) of the Money laundering Prohibition Act 2011 as amended, and punishable under section 15(3) of the same Act.

When the count charges were read to the defendants, they pleaded not guilty to them.
In view of the plea of the defendants, prosecution counsel, A. Olatunji applied for a date for trial and that the 1st defendant be remanded in EFCC's custody for ease of access to EFCC's investigators who are working on other matters involving the defendant.

She opposed any prospects of bail for the defendant, stressing that he jumped the administrative bail earlier granted him by the EFCC.

Responding, Prof. Kanike orally applied for bail for the first defendant on the basis that the “first defendant is holding a privilege title of MON (Member of the Order of Nigeria).

He has never jumped bail and we can make oral application for bail without filing a formal application. The purpose of bail is for the defendant to face his trial so that he will not be able to run away. He opposed the prayer of the prosecution that the first defendant be remanded in EFCC's custody.

Justice Watila adjourned the matter to 23 May, 2017 for ruling on bail application. He ordered that the defendant be remanded in EFCC's custody.

In another development, counsel to the EFCC applied for an ex-parte order for the interim forfeiture of money in the bank account of the defendants. Justice Watila granted the Order.

George Turnah was arrested by the EFCC in connection with alleged possession of funds running into two billion (N2,000,000,000.00)naira. The said amount is suspected to be siphoned from the NDDC while the defendant was serving as an Adviser between 2012 and 2015. He deposited the said amount in several bank accounts.


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