The Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday dismissed the no-case submission filed by an Indian businessman, Patrick Fernandez, in response to the N32bn fraud charges filed against him and three companies by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Justice Mojisola Olatoregun held that the anti-graft agency had made out a prima facie case against the defendants warranting that they must defend themselves.
“The major issue for consideration is whether or not there is any legally admissible document against the defendants.
The judge held,”The court only needs to determine, at this stage, whether a prima facie case has been made out by the prosecution against the defendants.
“In view of the evidence put before the court by the prosecution, the defendants need to offer some explanations for the allegations. They are hereby called upon to open their defence.”
Fernandez and the three firms are facing 56 counts bordering on fraud.
They have been standing trial since 2009.
The EFCC claimed that they defrauded some commercial banks to the tune of N32bn.
The anti-graft agency alleged that between January 21 and 25, 2008, Fernandez fraudulently presented various managers’ cheques for various sums of money to Intercontinental Bank Plc.
The prosecution said the offences contravened Section 1 (2) (a) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act , Cap M17 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and Section 14 (1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2004.
But the defendants pleaded not guilty.
In a bid to prove the charges, the prosecution called nine witnesses and closed its case on April 8, 2019.
But rather than enter their defence, the defendants filed no-case submissions, contending that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against them.
They urged the court to set them free.
Justice Olatoregun, however, dismissed their no-case submissions on Monday.