The arraignment of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Golden Tulip Hotel, Amaechi Ndili, was on Wednesday stalled at an Ikeja Special Offences Court. Also, the court has ordered that the case file should be returned to the Office of the Chief Judge of Lagos State for reassignment.
Justice Sherifat Solebo gave the order due to her approaching retirement which may hinder the completion of adjudication of the case. Ndili, 52, is also the Managing Director of Lionstone Offshore Services Ltd.
His co-defendant, Njide Ndili, the Executive Vice-President of Lionstone Offshore Services Ltd., was absent at proceedings allegedly due to ill-health.
They were to be arraigned alongside their company (Lionstone Offshore Services Ltd.) on a three-count charge bordering on conspiracy and stealing. On Wednesday, defence counsel, Mr Ebun Sofunde (SAN), told the court that Njide was in a hospital receiving medical attention.
Presenting a medical certificate from a private hospital to validate his claim, Sofunde prayed for an adjournment to give Njide time to recover and appear in court for her trial.
Reacting, prosecution counsel, ACP Simon Lough (SAN), expressed dismay over the development. He urged the judge to dismiss Sofunde’s submission, describing it as an antic to frustrate commencement of the trial.
Lough said that the case had suffered setbacks in the last seven years it was instituted. He said that the medical certificate presented to the court by defence contravened Section 198 of Administration of Criminal Law of Lagos State.
Section 198 stipulates that a medical certificate presented in court should be from a government hospital. In a ruling, Solebo held that the law the prosecution counsel cited did not apply in the case since the trial had yet to begin.
The judge advised parties in the suit to take the case to another judge in the interest of justice. According to her, it is inequitable on her part if she does not complete adjudication of the case.
The judge said that she would be retiring soon. According to the police, the defendants committed the alleged offences between July 2012 and September 2013.
The police alleged that the trio dishonestly converted to their personal use, $4.6 million which they received from Addax Petroleum Development Nig. Ltd. on behalf of Hercules Offshore Nig. Ltd.
The alleged offences contravene Sections 387 and 516 of the Criminal Code, Law, Cap C38, Laws of the Federation, 2004. #Alleged $4.6m fraud: Arraignment of Golden Tulip Hotel CEO stalled