FG appeals dismissal of $1.63m theft charges against Emirates Airlines

By The Nigerian Voice

THE Federal Government has appealed the April 10, 2018 judgment of the Federal High Court in Lagos which dismissed the theft charges it filed against Emirates Airlines and four of its officials.

The Attorney General of the Federation had in a charge, marked FHC/L/386c/09, accused Emirates Airlines and its officials of stealing a sum of $1.63m belonging to a China-bound businessman, Prince Ikem Orji.

But after nine years of prosecution, the court, in a judgment by Justice Mohammed Idris, dismissed the 11 counts filed against the defendants, holding that the Federal Government failed to substantiate its claims against the defendants.

Displeased with the judgment, however, the Federal Government has proceeded on appeal, seeking to overturn the acquittal of the airline and its officials.

Among other things, the AGF is contending that Justice Idris erred in law for failing to attach evidential value to Exhibit A1 and A2, but rather held that “I find that exhibits A1 and A2 are unsigned.”

The AGF said by so doing, Justice Idris failed to be guided by the Court of Appeal’s decision in the case of “Global Soap and Detergent Ltd v.

NAFDAC (2011) LPELR-CA/IL/13/2007, where the court held that a court could take judicial notice and look at documents including unsigned ones to deliver justice.”

The AGF is urging the appellate court to hold that Justice Idris miscarried justice by discharging the defendants.

Listed as defendants in the case are Emirates Airlines, Abayomi Abiola, Isiaka Adedeji, Awonubi Abayomi and George Ikpekhia.

Also joined as defendants were Pathfinder International Limited and the Nigeria Aviation Handling Company Plc.

The AGF alleged that the defendants conspired among themselves to swindle a businessman, Prince Ikem Orji, out of his $1.63m under the false pretence that they would help him to keep the money and deliver same to him at Ghuangzhou, China.

The money was said to have been kept in one of the four bags, tagged, EK 428682, EK428683, E 650165 and EK 650161, which Orji kept with the defendants on the promise that they would help him to keep the bags intact for onward delivery to him in China.

The AGF claimed that the defendants committed the offence on December 19, 2007 at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos.

In one of the charges, the four airport officials were charged with money laundering for their “failure to report an international transfer of the sum of $1.63m belonging to Prince Chu Ikem Orji, a sum above $10,000 required to be reported to the Central Bank of Nigeria by virtue of Section 2 (1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.”

The Federal Government alleged that the defendants acted contrary to Section 390(9) of the Criminal Code Act, Cap C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and were liable to be punished under Section 422 of the same Act.

The four airline officials were alleged to have violated Section 15(1)(e) of the Money Laundering Act Cap N30, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and were liable to be punished under Section 15(2)(b) and (3) of the same Act.‎ – -Punch-