The former Special Adviser (S.A) to Dan Abia, ex-Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), George Turnah, has appealed the judgement of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The former S.A to the erstwhile NDDC MD was sentenced to two years jail term on Thursday, September 7, 2023, following a High Court judgement on charges preferred against him and others: Ebis Orubebe and Uzorgor Silas Chidebere, by the Port Harcourt Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The appeal number CA/PH/2023, noted “that the appellant being dissatisfied with the decision of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt Judicial Division, contained in the judgement of Hon.Justice A.T Muhammed, dated 7th day of September 2023 doth hereby appeal to the Court.”
Their journey into the correctional institution began when they were originally arraigned by the EFCC in May, 2017 and re- arraigned on January 25, 2021.
The godson to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Barr. George Turnah and the two other convicts were arraigned on 23- count charges bordering on obtaining by false pretence, money laundering and abuse of office to the tune of N2, 894, 500, 000.
Count 6 of the charge reads: “that you, George Turnah Alabh, Uzogor Silas Chidiebere, El-Godams Global Services Ltd., Turnoil and Gas Nigeria Ltd, Kolo Creek Petroleum Dev. Ltd, Celtic Pride Consult and Events Ltd, Yenagoa Mall Ltd, The Incorporated Trustees of Concerned Niger Delta Initiative, Adaka Boro Marine Services Ltd, Sugarland Integrated Farms Nig. Ltd, Geohan Telecommunication Nig. Ltd and others at large, on or about the 24th day of November, 2014, at Port Harcourt, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did take possession of the sum of Seven Hundred and Eight Million Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N708,500,000.00) which you reasonably ought to know that the money was obtained by a false pretence from the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) purportedly for the purpose of providing quick win jobs for 300 youths and women groups and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under 15 (3) of the same Act”.
Count 23 of the charge reads: “that you George Turnah Alabh in 2014 within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did receive the sum of $1,000,000 (One Million United State Dollars) (at the exchange rate of N184 to a Dollar) cash from one Umar Lawal of Hakuri Global Concept exceeding the statutory limit without going through a financial institution and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as amended) and punishable under Section 16 (2) (b) of the same Act”.
They all pleaded “not guilty” to the charges. Meanwhile, the prosecution counsel, I. Agwu, called several witnesses and tendered documents to prove the case against the defendants.
The presiding judge therefore convicted and sentenced them to two years imprisonment each, starting from the date of their arrest.
The 1st defendant was ordered to pay N1, 000, 000 only as an option of fine, while the 2nd and 3rd defendants were asked to pay N500,000 into the Consolidated Revenue Account of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The 4th, 6th and 10th defendants were ordered to return the sum of N180,000,000. Other restitutions include, N5,000,000, traced to the 1st convict, and N100,000,000 traced to the 6th and 10th convicts.
N50,000,000 was traced to the Optimal Standard. They were to be forfeited to the NDDC.
Requesting a grant of an order of injunction pending appeal, the applicant prayed the Honourable Court for the following:
“1. AN ORDER staying the execution of the part of the judgement delivered on 7/9/2023 releasing some of the items listed in the interim forfeiture made on 23/5/2017 in suit NO FHC/PH/MISC/30/2017 to the 1st Defendant in this charge pending the determination of the Complainant/Applicant’s appeal filed on 8/9/2023 against the decision in CHARGE NO. FHC/PH/76C/2017 – FRN v GEORGE TURNER ALABH & ORS.
“2. AND for such further order or orders as this Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstances.
AND TAKE FURTHER NOTICE that the grounds of this application are:
“1. This Honourable Court on the 7th day of September, 2023 delivered Judgement in this charge.
“2. The Applicant being dissatisfied with the judgement, has by a notice of appeal dated 8th day of September, 2023 and filed same date lodged and appeal against the judgement of this Honourable Court.
“3. One of the requirements for the grant of an order for stay of execution pending appeal is for an appellant to establish that he has an arguable point on appeal.
“4. The referenced notice of appeal contains arguable grounds of appeal which have raised recondite, substantial, constitutional and fair hearing issues, and various points of law.
“5. This Honourable Court has the inherent powers vested in it by the constitution and under the rules of court to grant an order for stay of execution pending appeal.
“6. That if this application is not granted the appeal will be rendered nugatory and thus foist a situation of fait accomplished on the Court of Appeal and paralyze the applicants right of appeal.”
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