The change of defence counsel on Wednesday stalled hearing of a N918 million fraud charge brought by Titi Abubakar, the wife of a former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, against a pastor, Nsikakabasi Akpan-Jacobs and two others at an Ikeja High Court.
Mr. Akpan-Jacobs and the two co-defendants in the suit are Abdulmalik Ibrahim and Dana Motors Ltd.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had charged Mr. Akpan-Jacobs, Mr. Ibrahim and Dana Motors Ltd with a 15-count charge bordering on conspiracy, stealing and fraudulent conversion of property worth N918 million belonging to Titi’s company — THA Shipping Maritime Services Ltd.
During the proceedings, the counsel to the EFCC, Babatunde Sonoiki, told the court that the prosecution was ready to proceed with the trial.
“PW 5 (Prosecution witness) is in court and is ready to testify and we have another witness who came into Lagos from Yobe last night who is also ready to testify,” he said.
However, counsel to Mr. Akpan-Jacobs, Nkechi Okafor, however, interjected, saying “I am not ready to proceed with the trial.
“My Lord, I am new in this matter, I do not have a full grasp of the facts of this case.
“I will be requesting for time to be abreast of the happenings in this case.”
While acceding to Okafor’s request, Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye adjourned the case until May 23 and May 24 for continuation of trial.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that during the trial on March 21, Mr. Akpan-Jacobs had informed the court that he had intention of changing his counsel because he suspected that his counsel had a cordial relationship with Mrs. Abubakar or had been bought over by her.
The proceedings had also taken an interesting turn when Mrs. Abubakar angrily told the lawyer for Dana Motors Ltd, Charles Musa, not to ridicule her while she was being cross-examined.
Her outburst came when Mr. Musa asked if she was a reliable person because the documents allegedly belonging to her which she tendered as evidence bore various names.
“I will not agree with you, I am Florence, I am Dorego, I am Titi, I am Amina, I bear all those names; you cannot come and subject me to ridicule here.
“I will not have you do that to me, these two gentlemen defrauded me and sold my property,” she said.
NAN reports that THA Shipping Maritime Services Ltd, a company created in 2000 belonged to Mrs. Abubakar, Mr. Akpan-Jacobs and Fred Holmes.
Mrs. Abubakar was the majority shareholder with 49 per cent shares, while Holmes and Akpan-Jacobs each had 25 per cent shares.
Mr. Akpan-Jacobs, who also doubled as the company’s Managing Director and Secretary, is alleged by Mrs. Abubakar to have gone to the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to alter the shareholding in his favour and forge the company’s board resolution.
He allegedly under the new share arrangement allotted 70 per cent shares to himself and 15 per cent shares each to Mrs. Abubakar and Mr. Holmes.
According to the EFCC, welding a fraudulent shareholding power, Mr. Akpan-Jacobs sold a property belonging to the company to Dana Motors Nigeria Ltd for N918 million.
The property is located at Plot C63 A, Amuwo-Odofin Commercial Layout along Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, Lagos.