Justice O.O. Abike-Fadipe of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, on Wednesday, October 4, 2023, ordered a businesswoman, Portia Emilia, and her company, Savanah Crest Investment Limited, to enter their defences in an alleged N110m fraud preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The defendants were re-arraigned on March 16, 2023 on amended five-count charges bordering on conspiracy to steal, contrary to Section 411 and punishable under Section 287 (5) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2015; obtaining money and property by false pretences, contrary to Section 1(1)(2) and 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Fraud Offences Act 2006; stealing, contrary to Section 280(1) (12)8(7), 285(1) and 278(1)b) of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2011; and retaining stolen property, contrary to Section 328 (1) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2015.
One of the counts reads: “Portia Anthony Emilia and Savanah Crest Investment Limited, sometime in 2018 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud, stole and dishonestly converted to your own the sum of N40,000,000.00 (Forty Million Naira only)”.
Another count reads: “Portia Anthony Emilia and Savanah Crest Investment Limited, sometime in 2018 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud, fraudulently obtained the sum of N20,000,000.00 (Twenty Million Naira) from one Wendy Daniel.”
Emilia, who also took the plea of the company, pleaded “not guilty” to all the charges.
In the course of the trial, prosecution counsel, F. Ofoma, called two witnesses through whom he tendered several documents.
The prosecution closed its case on March 16, 2023. However, rather than open its defence, defence counsel, J.J. Amodu, filed a no-case submission, arguing that his clients had nothing to answer in spite of evidence adduced by the EFCC.
Ruling on the no-case submission by the defendants on Wednesday, Justice Abike-Fadipe held that the prosecution had established a prima facie case against the defendants on all the counts, necessitating them to be docked for their own sides of the story.
Justice Abike-Fadipe ruled that “I am satisfied that the prosecution has established a prima facie case, which the defendants are called upon to answer. “The no-case submission is hereby overruled, and the defendants are called upon to enter their defence.”
The judge also adjourned the matter to January 18 and 25, 2024 and February 1, 2024.