N15m Fraud: Court Adjourns Rita Asajie’s Case Till August 8, For Judgement

Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos has fixed August 8, 2022 to deliver judgment in the N15 million fraud charge brought against one Rita Asajie alongside her company Ritzadel Nigeria Limited.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is prosecuting the defendants on a three-count charge bordering on stealing, contrary to Section 285 (1) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011, and issuance of dishonoured cheques contrary to Section 1(1)(b) of the Dishonoured Cheques (Offences) Act Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

Count one reads: “Rita Asajie and Ritzadel Nigeria Limited, on or about the 6th day of March 2012 at Lagos within the Lagos Judicial Division, did dishonestly convert the sum of N15,000,000 (Fifteen Million Naira) property of Lawrex Energy Limited for your own use.”

Count three reads: “Rita Asajie and Ritzadel Nigeria Limited, on or about the 13th day of September 2012 at Lagos within the Lagos Judicial Division, did issue a Fidelity Bank Plc cheque in the sum of N5,000,000.00 drawn on the account belonging to Ritzadel Nigeria Limited in refund of the payment of N15,000,000.00 made by Lawrex Energy Limited to you for the supply of diesel to them which you did not supply, which upon presentation, was dishonoured due to insufficiency funds in the account of Ritzadel Nigeria Limited.”

She pleaded “not guilty” to all the counts when she was arraigned on May 18, 2015, prompting the commencement of trial.

At a recent proceeding, the prosecuting counsel, O. Adewunmi, informed the court that the prosecution closed its case since January 16, 2019.

She said: “The defendants however filed a no-case submission, and ruling was delivered on April 9, 2019, with this Honourable Court dismissing the no-case submission, and the defendants ordered to open their defence.

“However, my lord, since 23rd May 2019, the defendant has seized to appear in court, and a bench warrant was issued on 8th July 2019.”

Adewunmi, further noted that the defendant, who was also not in court at today’s proceeding, “has since stopped being represented, and has stopped being in court.”

Citing relevant sections of the Administration of Criminal Justice (Amended) Law of Lagos State 2021, Adewunmi, therefore, prayed the court to “convict both defendants in absentia”, arguing further that the Law allows for it “after two adjournments”.

After listening to the argument of the prosecution, Justice Taiwo adjourned till August 8, 2022 “for judgement”.