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Court Strikes Out $8.8m Fraud Charge Against British Nationals

Deepak Khilani

A Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja Thursday struck out a $8.8m fraud charge brought against two British nationals, Deepak Khilani and Sushil Chandra by the Lagos State Government.

The fraud allegation was struck out by Justice Atinuke Ipaye following a notice of discontinuance filed by Y.G Oshoala, Director of Directorate of Public Prosecution, DPP on behalf of Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Lagos State.

Khilani and Chandra were charge in 2015 for allegedly defrauding their Nigerian business partners Green Fuels Limited of $8.8 million in 2008.

The trial had been protracted since 2015 until recently when the state notified the court of its plan to review the case.

During Thursday proceeding ,Prosecution Team led by Akin George informed the court that the state had filed a notice of discontinuance dated June 29, 2017.

George told the court that after reviewing the charges against the defendants, the state Attorney General is of the view that there was no need to pursue the trial.

“My Lord, we did informed this court at the last adjourned date that the Attorney General is reviewing this matter. The outcome of this review is that the state has filed a notice of discontinuance of this trial. We pray the court to strike out this matter,” he said.

Following the submission of the state prosecuting lawyer, counsel to the defendants, George Oguntade, SAN, prayed the court to strike out the charges against his clients.

Oguntade also urged the court to strike out an earlier arrest warrant issued against his clients.

A twist was however added to the proceedings when a group of lawyers led by one Ola Olayinka protested against the decision of the Attorney General to discontinue the trial.

Olayinka told the court that the matter was of public interest and that the Attorney General ought not to discontinue such matter without giving any reason to the court.

However in a short ruling, Justice Ipaye held that the statutory powers to initiate and discontinue a criminal proceeding in Lagos State lies with the Attorney General.

“The state represented by the Attorney General has the absolute powers to initiate and discontinue a criminal proceeding. It is not for this court to mitigate or investigate the exercise of this legitimate powers. I see no reason why this charge should not be struck out. This charge is hereby struck out,”

The judge also struck out the warrant it had earlier issued for the arrest of the two defendants.

” An order of arrest made by this court for the arrest of the defendants dated April 3, 2017 is hereby vacated. This matter is adjourned sine die,” she held.

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